Small ferry operators provide a commute to Comino are up in arms. Government has given this concession to one company for a period of 15 years. Comino Ferries Coop was the only company who submitted a tender and is expected to pay in the region of €37,000 annually for the concession. This concession will also see ticket prices for the commute doubling.
Small operators livid
Newsbook.com.mt spoke to several operators who have now been ousted. Angrily they questioned the move given that they had been providing the service over the past several years and the concession will not see them out of a job and down on their investment. The operators received a letter informing them that the successful company had received the exclusive concession for a scheduled service to Comino from all the Cirkewwa to Marfa and the whole north of Malta to Santa Marija and Blue Lagoon bays, the mecca of Comino visitors. The other operators may not offer a similar service. They were warned that if they contravened the direction in any way, Transport Malta, as regulator will take both legal and enforcement action against the offenders.
Aye, Aye, Captain Morgan
Captain Morgan is one of the 4 companies which was given the concession by the cooperative association. A spokesperson to the company confirmed that the three other companies were already in operation according to the tender. Whilst refusing to comment to Newsbook.com.mt the company issued a press statement in which it rebutted the criticism by the rest of the operators. The company stressed that it was only their cooperative association which expressed any interest to provide the service.
The members of the cooperative association are Julian Zammit Tabona on behalf of Captain Morgan, Mark Anthony Bajada, Loreto Xuereb, Joey Camilleri, Johnnie Spiteri, Joseph Xuereb and Samuel Camilleri.
Questions sent by this newsroom to the Office of the Prime Minister remained unanswered.
In June 2019 Newsbook.com.mt published an article saying that the future of small ferry operators providing a commute between Gozo and Comino were uncertain about their future since Transport Malta was to give a concession to one operator for a period of 15 years. This came into effect as from August 2019.
‘They are facing discrimination’ – GTA
According to a statement issued by the Gozo Tourism Association (GTA), this agreement between the government and one operator is imposing discrimination. The GTA is requesting Transport Malta to revisit the agreement, do the needed adjustments and provide a level playing field to small operators.