Questions and eyebrows are being raised from Gozo to Brussels over the final €12 million cost of a two-year project that rebuilt around 30 kilometres of traditional rubble walls across the island.
The Shift is informed that “serious questions” are being asked about how the project, which was mostly EU-funded, ended up costing more than twice the normal market price for such work.
But neither the minister responsible for the project, Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri, nor Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds Chris Bonett is making any information available.
They have been asked for details on exactly how many square metres of rubble wall had been built and/or restored through the project, to provide a list of the roads concerned and the cost per square metre.
It is not being excluded that Brussels will launch a probe – possibly by the EU’s anti-fraud office OLAF – into the final cost and to establish that all certifications required for the disbursement of funds are in order.
At a press event last January, Camilleri and Bonnet explained that, in all, around 30 kilometres of rubble wall had been built over the last two years at a cost of some €10 million.
Research conducted by The Shift shows that the project, which was 75% funded by the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development, has exceeded the costs quoted by the Gozo Ministry by €2 million – a 20% overrun.
Allocated by tender to Gozo’s largest contractor, Road Construction Company Limited, for an original €9.6 million price tag, the company overran that by a whopping €1.5 million, and with the approval of additional funds having been cleared by the local authorities.
At the same time, around €400,000 was spent on project management, work that was allocated by tender to Meinhardt Malta Private Ltd, which is owned by a company based in Singapore.
All included – at €12 million for 30 kilometres – the rubble wall work wound up costing roughly €400 per metre.
Various local contractors contacted by The Shift quoted the current market price for rebuilding rubble walls with traditional methods at between €80 and €100 per square metre, materials included.
One expert in the field told The Shift that, at first glance, the government has paid at least three times the going market rate and posited that if the EU were to investigate the project, it would find some surprises.
Another person in the field highlighted that traditional rubble walls are built without the use of concrete, but that this was not the case with most of the new EU-funded rubble walls in question.
Some of the so-called rubble walls are, in fact, just concrete walls with cladding.
The EU does not normally issue funds before it ensures a project’s final certifications are all in place and after thorough checks, sometimes by independent surveyors, are carried out.
EU funds for rural affairs and agriculture are notorious for being linked to fraud.
According to the latest report issued by the European Public Prosecutors Office, there are currently 14 ongoing investigations on the use of EU funds in Malta.
The EPPO has five ongoing expenditure investigations in Malta, three of which deal with agricultural and rural development programmes,
It is not known whether the Gozo rubble walls project is one of them as such information is not divulged at investigation stage.
A mystery deeper than the Bermuda Triangle.
When the authorities do not answer legitimate questions, we have the right to suspect foul.
The authorities do not answer because they will incriminate themselves. The only problem is to find out the details, because the police do nothing , the ministry clean up after the crime while the AG keeps playing hide and seek .
Another humiliating situation for our country – suspicion of fraud and underhand dealings in moneys provided for improvements.
Where there is honey, one can always expect pests circling around trying to have their bit.
The ingredients and their inflated weight for this fraudulent cake are there. Similarly the chef and sous chef were present and have no alibi. Those who ate the cake with their voracious appetite for ill gotten fraudulent gains also will have left their clear fingerprints. The scene of the crime is the Gozo hamlet in the southernmost EU member state of Malta. The member state’s institutions and their mekanisms – known internationally for how well they work – were caught innocently off guard and sleeping. As the Judge in the Mardaugh trial said earlier this week, circumstantial evidence is as strong as direct evidence. EU anti-fraud office will have noted.
EU funds are funding this corrupt government and his trolls
SHAME ON THIS SUPERCORRUPT GOVERNMENT in mafialand.
Another EU money grabbing project just like the Marsa flyovers (€2,000,000)? Is there even one project in which no illegal finger dipping was done?
I’m sick and tired!! Every day with new scandals!! Shameful individuals who brought our beloved Malta’s name to such a state!!
Well done once again to the Shift for exposing unending corrupt practices by Ministers in the pockets of developers and dubious tender winners.
I ask: how many private properties were beneficiaries for these works at no cost?
How much was paid to the Minister, under the table?
Has anyone investigated the bank accounts and public registry searches of this Minister to establish whether he has free access to Malta’s treasury and to European funds?
€12000000 for 30km is equal to €400 per meter run and not per square meter. If in one meter run the height is 5m then it would be €400 per 5meter squared i.e €80 per square meter .
As Daphne Caruana Galizia used to say. Follow the Cash. This leads the curious to companies that invariably are not in the EU , and in many cases in dire financial straits that make these companies prone to be corrupted into giving back handed commissions . The LNG Tanker is a typical one , that is why it stinks.
I would be interested to hear some form of follow up story on this subject and other similar reports. We get the scandal news followed by a number of angry comments and as always the story dies and nothing is ever heard until the next scandal hits the headlines. Get an EU external audit team in to go through the documents with a fine tooth comb and to also inspect the works. Who signed this work off ? And accepted work that does not meet the criteria as required. Why is this person not investigated
Where are interpol investigations into corruption
Please follow this up with updated public reports