‘Public will be forced to intervene’ as deckchairs placed on Comino garigue

The sunbeds were placed on protected Natura2000 garigue, whose safeguarding falls under the remit of ERA and Minister Miriam Dalli


The lack of enforcement against newly placed deckchairs on previously untouched garigue close to the Blue Lagoon in Comino “exposes the weakness of ERA and that of the Environment Minister Miriam Dalli,” Moviment Graffitti said in a statement on Thursday.

In their statement, Graffitti said that in the absence of government enforcement, “the public will be forced to intervene and protect Comino from the forces of greed,” alluding to further direct action, as was taken in June 2022 when activists removed deckchairs that were encroaching the beach and jetty at Blue Lagoon.

Following Graffitti’s direct action that received massive public support, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo promised to ban all deckchairs from the sandy part of the popular bay and claimed a tender would be issued at the start of this year.

That tender never materialised, with the concessions instead being extended for another year, with the minister claiming “only 35% of deckchairs will be set up at the Blue Lagoon compared to last year.”

The deckchair operators have since extended their grasp, placing sunbeds and umbrellas on a patch of protected garigue land nearby.

Graffitti said “year after year, the public authorities remain subservient towards business interests, accepting the destruction of natural habitat on public land”.

The activists are also “holding the Minister for the Environment, Miriam Dalli, responsible for her complicity in the destruction of our natural environment.”

Following Graffitti’s direct action in Comino last year, The Shift revealed the vested interests allowing the sunbed vendors to continue to operate.

The two operators abusively renting out deckchairs and umbrellas at Blue Lagoon are Daniel Refalo and Mark Cutajar.

Refalo is a close associate of rogue Gozitan developer Joseph Portelli.

Cutajar is brother to Labour MEP Josianne Cutajar and a canvasser for Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri.

At the time, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo had argued that it was not his ministry’s responsibility to enforce or regulate the deckchair operators while nonetheless promising that enforcement would be carried out and alluding to recommendations from a Comino management plan that have been in the works since 2016.

Last June, The Shift also revealed that Bartolo’s father and uncles, Joseph, Godfrey and David Bartolo operate daily ferry trips to Comino throughout the summer through their company Pleasure and Leisure. Yet a spokesperson for Bartolo said there was “clearly no conflict of interest”.

In December, following a raft of parliamentary questions, Bartolo and Lands Authority Minister Silvio Schembri admitted that extensions had been awarded to the deckchair concessionaires but refused to give details or provide the agreements, promising instead to issue a call for tenders at the beginning of 2023.

That promise was once again broken, belying Bartolo’s claims as the concessions were once again extended for another year, giving the sunbed operators free rein for at least another summer.

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2 months ago

Miriam Dalli li ma tarax ghajn mghajn ma’ Robert Abela… u li qed tistinka mal-idjoti ta’ madwarha biex tehodlu postu… qed tkompli turi kemm hi politiku dghajfa.

Dghajfa bhal meta hadet ir-riedni tal-Ministeru tal-Energija f’idejha u mghamlet xejn biex tnaddaf il-hmieg, anzi pperpetrat il-kuntratt korrott tal-Electrogas.

Miriam Dalli. Il-paladina tal-falsità bil-Project Green, il-kontinwità tal-agir korrott ta’ Mizzi bl-inazzjoni taghha, u komplici fil-kuntratt frodi tal-isptarijiet bil-vot parlamentari taghha. Nifrahlek Miriam.

A. Fan
A. Fan
2 months ago

Nothing will change so long as these highwaymen are protected by sheeple who, in their ignorance, continue to value a bag of oranges above the preservation of public property for future generations.

Georges Desirè Gwenael Cherre
Georges Desirè Gwenael Cherre
2 months ago

So sad……This kind of turist will kill everyone and everything step by step…….doesn’t matter they received the money from European Union.

Toni Borg
Toni Borg
2 months ago

The deck chair owners are all under the patronage of Minister Camilleri!

As with everything else, he won’t do a thing. Only good thing he’s good at is employing people in Gozo, dishing out millions in overtime and keeping FKNK happy!

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