The construction of an upgraded ferry landing place in Marsamxett, publicised as part of a host of maritime infrastructure projects in early 2022, has now been shelved in what Infrastructure Malta calls a “reprioritisation” move.
The decision was taken amid budget cuts for the Infrastructure Agency as next year’s budget allocated it just €1 million, despite an issued call for tenders estimating a cost of €28 million.
The project was set to include an upgrade of the facilities from which the Valletta-Sliema ferry currently operates and the construction of a breakwater.
Infrastructure Minister Aaron Farrugia has now claimed the project is no longer a government priority in response to a parliamentary question by opposition MP Chris Said.
In comments to The Shift, Infrastructure Malta CEO Ivan Falzon said that while he “does not exclude the project going ahead at a future date,” the decision to shelve it was merely “reprioritisation” and “a question of resources”.
He said Infrastructure Malta’s funds would be utilised on other projects higher on the priority list and that the decision did not result from any other external factors.
“The project had not yet started, so there was no commitment from our end, freeing us up to reprioritise,” he said.
A Planning Authority permit for the project submitted in 2019 was approved in January 2022, paving the way for its completion.
The subsequent tendering process had not yet reached the adjudication stage but had received submissions from three joint ventures valued between €17.8 million and €28.5 million.
The most recent call for tenders on the project, which notes its use of European Union funding, followed two other calls dating back to 2021. While no information was available on the first call, the second was cancelled in November 2022.
The project formed part of a series of planned ferry landing upgrades, including the Bormla ferry landing, initially set for completion in 2021 but inaugurated in June, and new facilities in Sliema, which Falzon said were “weeks from completion,” as well as a revamped quay and breakwater in Buġibba.