TM’s director removed as investigations into RHIBs scandal continue

Patrick Pollacco left his position as the head of maritime enforcement at Transport Malta last week as two ongoing investigations about the purchase of faulty RHIBs by the transport regulator are due to reach their conclusion.

His replacement has not yet been appointed, but it seems the logical choice to replace Pollacco – Maritime Enforcement Manager Rudolph Muscat – is not being considered for the position.

A National Audit Office (NAO) report published last December identified a series of shortcomings in the tendering process after the two tenders, issued in 2020 to buy the five boats at a cost of some €800,000, were evaluated and awarded in just one day.

While the NAO report stopped short of naming those involved, The Shift’s investigations found that Pollacco was responsible for overseeing the deal, with input from Muscat.

Patrick Pollacco

The Shift then found that Pollacco was told last week that his services would no longer be needed and that his request to extend his contract was not accepted.

The Shift asked Transport Malta’s CEO Mark Mallia what position Pollacco currently has, why he was asked to step down, and if this has anything to do with the ongoing investigations, including one of a criminal nature, but he did not respond.

The Shift also asked Transport Malta what action had been taken against Pollacco following the NAO’s findings, but no response was received.

Currently, two investigations are ongoing: One internal, conducted by Transport Malta,  and another, a criminal investigation by the police.

The RHIBs, bought to be used for enforcement purposes, developed structural defects almost immediately after use.

At least two of the brand-new boats had defects so severe that the RHIBs were declared unseaworthy.

The NAO noted that the tendering process opening session was held on 7 May, 2020, while the evaluation report was dated the following day. This implies that the 13 offers submitted were administratively, technically and financially analysed in one day.

“This raises serious concerns about the quality of assessments carried out,” the NAO said.

The report also noted that no market research was conducted before the tender’s specifications were written.

The purchase of the faulty RHIBs was carried out when Transport Malta fell under the responsibility of Minister Ian Borg. The winning bidder is based in Rabat, the minister’s district.


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1 month ago

Maybe time to put someone with a spine in?

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