The Planning Authority has given a green light for further work to be carried out on an illegal shooting range in Bidnija, which had been built, mostly by the government, without any permits whatsoever over the last four decades.
Even though the illegal range should have been closed down and demolished by the authorities years ago, the PA has gone ahead and issued a dangerous structure permit so that further work on the range could be carried out.
Concrete mixers, cranes and other heavy plant machinery returned to the quiet hamlet to begin the newly-permitted works, which are being carried out under the direction of former Nationalist minister, architect c.
While the new work has been given the PA’s fresh consent, the authority is still screening a new application the Malta Shooting Sports Federation submitted last year to “sanction the shooting range as built”.
The Federation is now trying to regularise the illegalities that have been left standing since 1978, and the PA has now issued the new partial permit without first deciding on the Federation’s original application.
The Bidnija shooting range saga has been ongoing for years and intensified recently when a new shooting range was built in Ta’ Kandja, Siggiewi, which is being underused despite a €14 million public investment.
The Bidnija range started being developed in 1978 when notorious former Labour minister Lorry Sant issued a building permit for a 90 square metre structure to be located “as far away as possible from Wied Qannota in Bidnija and screened by fast-growing trees”.
But over the years, aided by various Labour and Nationalist administrations seeking votes from the range’s users, it was developed into a 6,000 square metre facility – almost the size of a football ground – to the increasing dissatisfaction of an number of nearby residents who made the area their home on the promise that the shooting range was only temporary and that it would eventually be moved.
Even though the range was built illegally, the police have renewed its operating licence every year. Moreover, despite the objections and the range’s operators ignoring their licence’s conditions, no form of enforcement was ever carried out by the police.
Residents told The Shift that before the 2017 and 2022 general elections Labour prime ministers Joseph Muscat and Robert Abela both pledged the Bidnija shooting range would be removed and that the Federation would instead be given running the new Ta’ Kandja shooting range.
These promises, however, vanished into thin air after both elections.
The same promises had been made to the Malta Shooting Sports Federation, which was eager to begin operating the new Ta’ Kandja range and to move out of Bidnija. Those promises, too, were not honoured and the Federation remains in Bidnija.
Built in a hurry in 2017, the new Ta’ Kandja range was supposed to have cost €7 million but ended up costing taxpayers €14 million in a project the National Audit Office found to have been “marred in irregularities”.
The project was managed by Chris Bonnet – now parliamentary secretary for EU funds – who issued millions of euros worth of direct orders for companies close to the Labour government, including Bonnici Brothers and BAVA, whose shareholders also own Construct Furniture.
In the meantime, the new range remains mostly unused, incomplete and with structural damage requiring hundreds of thousands of euros to be repaired.
Obviously when the government breaks the law it is never held accountable. Dictatorship, anyone?
Although the law courts had confirmed that we have a corrupt government, this corrupt muvument is still rolling on us.
Along with a corrupt electorate
This is also fraud. Two entities agreeing to swindle a third.