Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti
The opening of the long-awaited new Olympic-size pool and adjacent sports hall facility in Rabat, Gozo, has been held up again as major construction delays and budget overruns continue to plague the government project.
The project was initially tabled in 2012 but has changed and been delayed many times over the years. Previously, Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri promised the pool would be open in 2021, but when asked by Nationalist Party (PN) MP Joe Ellis in October of that year, Camilleri said the pool would open in October 2022.
Now, in October 2023, when asked by the PN’s Gozo spokesperson Alex Borg when the project is expected to be completed, Camilleri said the project is in its ‘final phase’ but would be ready after June 2024.
The string of delays also meant the pool missed another completion date with the intention it would be used for the Small Nations Games this spring.
Construction started six years ago, in 2017, following a tender given to PoliExcel Ltd – at the time, a partnership between Charles Polidano, known as Ic-Caqnu, and a Turkish company in which Gozitan construction magnate Joseph Portelli and his associates were involved.
Later, Mark Agius, known as Ta’ Dirjanu, resigned from the company’s board.
The project was originally estimated to cost some €9 million. However, instead of concentrating on the pool to be built adjacent to the existing sports complex, the project developed into a fully-fledged revamp of the complex, pushing costs through the roof.
As of May, the government had already paid €13 million to the contractors, and bills are expected to continue to rise, possibly doubling the original estimates to €18 million.
Over the years, Camilleri has not explained why the project has been held up so many times and why it is still not completed.
Nearly all Gozo projects under the remit of the Gozo ministry end up costing significantly more than initially foreseen while also going way beyond their estimated completion dates- often with little explanation.
A case in point is the reconstruction of the main road artery leading to Nadur, completed four years late and costing double the initial budget.
To date, no audits have been carried out on the value for money of the projects or whether the additional costs are justified.