Comino deckchairs: minister issues third extension without tender

Aqra bil-Malti

Despite promising to take action, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo has issued a third consecutive direct order without tender to the same three businesses, allowing them to continue operating irregularly on Comino’s Blue Lagoon and Santa Marija.

After months of refusing to divulge the reasons behind his inaction, Bartolo finally admitted in parliament that this year’s situation will remain the same.

When Gozitan MP Chris Said pressed Bartolo to explain why, despite his 2022 promise, no tender had been issued for public land concession at the popular island, Bartolo announced that he had again extended the expired concession without a tender.

This means that the three will continue to occupy public land irregularly to rent out deckchairs and umbrellas, among their other services. 

Mark Cutajar (left) and Gozo minister Clint Camilleri (right).

The operators are Daniel Refalo, who also doubles as a property developer together with Gozitan construction magnate Joseph Portelli, Mark Cutajar, brother of Labour MEP Josianne Cutajar and a canvasser of Planning Minister Clint Camilleri, and Sandro Ciliberi, who operates at the quieter Santa Marija Bay.

The Tourism Minister also has a direct personal interest in Comino. His father is the co-owner of Mellieha’s Pleasure and Leisure Ltd, which ferries tourists to the Blue Lagoon daily in boats operating under the name ‘Oh Yeah Malta’.

NGOs have long proposed limiting the number of day visitors on the island. However, the minister never commented on this proposal and only said that he was conducting a study on the situation, which has been ongoing since 2022.

Protests led to nothing

Following protests by several NGOs, including Moviment Graffiti, on the worsening situation in Comino, Bartolo and the Prime Minister had stated that a tender would be issued for the summer of 2022.

However, nothing has happened since then.

First, Bartolo said it was too late for the tender to be issued in time for the summer of 2022.  In 2023, he said the study he commissioned was still ongoing. As the 2024 summer season approached, Minister Bartolo announced the third extension, saying it was approved following a ‘reorganisation’ of the bay last year.

Despite Bartolo’s justifications for the concessions, the encroachment is still “irregular” according to law. Nevertheless, Bartolo has yet to disclose a timeline for implementing his 2022 promise to issue a tender.

                           

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D. Borg
D. Borg
1 month ago

Incompetent, would be too kind an adjective
Unscrupulously corrupt, is more befitting.

In any Western democracy, the minister will resign or be sacked outright.

Ganni
Ganni
1 month ago
Reply to  D. Borg

There are crooks everywhere.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago

Dan jista jaghmel li jrid, ghax Bobby has his back always…Events are still taking place, with money going to the same people yet again, Comino is back to where it was, Ghadira promenade is STILL not finished, Bugibba square is nowhere near starting, and in the meantime, he uses the MTA to give funds to churches for renovations using the excuse of religious tourism. And then we were all shocked to hear how a parish priest of what can easily be described as one of the largest churches in the south of the island, had to think outside the box to raise funds for works of refurbishment which the church needs. I might be wrong but even though it is not in the south, Paola is still, a place which is still visited by tourists but somehow does not fall under the radar of the Tourism Minister because it is not in his district or it is not the hometown of his permanent secretary who is also the president of a banda to whom Bartolo donates to.

Kieku Rahal Gdid was his district, kieku min jaf kemm ghamel press conferences mal-Kappillan!

Carmel Sammut
Carmel Sammut
1 month ago

How much “consultancy fee”?

makjavel
makjavel
1 month ago

He smiles like an idiot caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Albert Bonnici
Albert Bonnici
1 month ago
Reply to  makjavel

I beg to correct your statement. He does not smile like an idiot. He is an idiot and that’s to our detrimnet.

carlos
1 month ago

another incompetent twit. shame on you – your sarcastic smile says it all.

Joseph
Joseph
1 month ago

Kif ma jisthix mil-poplu Malti!!!.. kibritilhom rashom wisq ghax jafu min fejn ghandhom ifottu biex jigvernaw. L’opposizzjoni issa trid taghmel xogholha. Atrimenti ha jkollna it-tieni pajjiz zghir bhal Russja.

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