Former transport minister Joe Mizzi and his personal assistant Mariella Agius Vassallo have been appointed as directors of the increasingly Labour-leaning board of Transport Malta.
At a time Malta’s transport sector is facing traffic gridlocks, worsening infrastructure, and claims of rampant corruption and rackets related to driving test licenses, Transport Minster Aaron Farrugia has filled the transport regulator’s board with several canvassers and associates of CEO Jonathan Borg.
Ousted from the cabinet by Prime Minister Robert Abela as soon as he took office, Joe Mizzi, the minister responsible for Transport Malta for several years, is now a board member. His assistant, Mariella Agius Vassallo, has also been put on the board despite having no qualifications or first-hand experience in the transport sector.
They were both appointed to the board in August, but it is not known precisely how much they receive each year for the directorship, although it is believed to be several thousand euros.
Vassallo was also given a job at the Water and Energy Agency when Mizzi was removed from cabinet.
The non-executive chairman is Michael Callus, who previously worked privately within the maritime industry, with Hamrun’s Labour Party Mayor Christian Sammut as deputy chairman.
Many of Transport Malta’s board members are from Hamrun or Santa Venera, the primary constituency that elects Farrugia.
Joseph Theuma, a former member of the private secretariat of Nationalist Party minister Jesmond Mugliette, now running an employment agency working mainly with third-country nationals, has been put on the board after switching allegiance to the Labour Party.
A close friend of Farrugia, Theuma was already on Wasteserv’s board when Farrugia was responsible for the environment ministry.
Matthew Chetcuti, Labour’s Deputy Mayor in Rabat, is also a member of the Transport Malta board. Rabat is the ‘second’ district contested by Farrugia.
The other board members are Marlene Attard and Dorianne Abela, who Transport Malta sources described as “close” to CEO Jonathan Borg, while Joe Rodgers, who is already a board director of Project Plus, a government agency with minimal scope, has been given a second directorship on the board.
Transport Malta is considered one of the most important but challenged government authorities, harshly criticised for the lack of progress in solving major transport issues and swamped with corruption cases.