The Mayor of Ragusa is facing uncomfortable questions from the council over the takeover of the Marina di Ragusa by Maltese businessman Paul Gauci.
Gauci, the main shareholder of the PG Group, which owns and operates the PAVI and PAMA shopping malls and represents the Zara clothing brand in Malta, purchased a 30-year concession for the running of the marina in a multimillion-euro deal the value of which remains undisclosed.
But the Maltese investment and the lack of a new promised ferry service to Malta this summer is creating waves within the Ragusa council.
Ragusa councillor Gaetano Mauro, for one, is questioning Mayor Peppe Cassì about whether the authorities are looking “to oust local businesses in favour of those coming from Malta. What’s going on?”
Mauro said he is representing the concerns of businesses at the Marina di Ragusa, which are reportedly taking issue with Gauci’s company’s – Porto Turistico Holding Ltd – commercial development strategy for the 750-berth marina.
The mayor is also being asked for details on how, exactly, the Maltese port management company was able to acquire public property and change the use of buildings and infrastructure.
“Not only are there reports of dissent and concern among the businesses at the Marina di Ragusa over the concessionaire’s management of the port’s infrastructure, but there is concern over the change of use of all the premises, which were initially intended for port and navigation services.”
Gauci has also invested in a catamaran, the Ragusa Xpress which will take 430 passengers and 21 cars, or 65 motorcycles.
The aim was to introduce a daily service of the hour and 45-minute crossing by summer.
The ferry service was meant to have started this summer – for passengers only since the marina ferry terminal is not yet equipped for vehicles – there is still no sign of the initial service getting off the ground.
In the meantime, Virtu Ferries remains the sole catamaran operator between the two islands after its sole competitor, Ponte Ferries, recently called it a day and sold its catamaran to a Spanish company.