Transport Malta seems to have trouble providing financial information on five brand new Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs), bought in 2021 for its enforcement section, with some already declared unseaworthy.
The beleaguered transport regulator has repeatedly failed to observe time limits imposed in the Freedom of Information Act to provide the necessary information.
Following revelations on how the RHIBs, bought only two years ago, had to be beached after developing severe structural defects, The Shift last July asked Transport Malta to provide it with the cost of these RHIBs, the tender through which they were bought, and a list of payments made in the last two years on repairs on every RHIB.
Minister Aaron Farrugia’s Transport Malta has failed to reply despite repeated reminders, ignoring rigid time limits regulated by the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
The Shift was forced to use the FOI system as both the minister and his newly installed CEO, Jonathan Borg, repeatedly failed to reply to questions on the subject.
The latest scandal dates back to 2021 when Ian Borg was the minister responsible for Transport Malta. Five brand new RHIBs were bought from an agent in Rabat – Borg’s electoral district.
It is as yet unclear whether these boats, which cost over half a million euro, were purchased through a tender or a direct order.
Problems started as soon as they were put to sea, with Transport Malta employees complaining about how the seacrafts were not up to standard.
The Shift revealed how an expert report drawn up by a surveyor, after inspecting the five ‘new’ boats, found major problems. Structural damage was found on two of the boats that rendered them unusable.
“The extent of damage seen on ER1 (one of the RHIBs) is deemed to be major,” the surveyor concluded.
“It is strongly advised for ER1 to be placed out of service. The craft’s primary hull structure has been heavily compromised and is no longer deemed seaworthy,” the damning report found.
“Similar instances of damage are being noted on ER2 (another RHIB), the expert reported. Continued use of this unit will inevitably lead to the same degree of damages seen on ER1,” it was noted.
The surveyor wrote that ER2 would be used in a limited fashion and only in good weather.
Problems were also noted on all the other RHIBs.
The Shift understands that Transport Malta spent additional hundreds of thousands to try to fix the situation following the technical reports, with limited results.
It is unclear whether the reported damages to the new RHIBs were due to structural damages at the time of purchase or developed only after Transport Malta enforcement officers started using them.
So far, no legal measures have been taken by Transport Malta to protect its interest and public funds used for these RHIBs.