Gozo Ministry’s double speak on illegal concrete direct order

September 8: Works carried by direct order - Justyne Caruana. November 9: Direct order was not given to Portelli’s illegal batching plant - Ministry. November 10: Times of Malta proved the contrary.

DOI/Minister Justyne Caruana with Anthony Bugeja; one of the illegal plant’s owners

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

On Friday, November 8th the Gozo Ministry told Newsbook.com.mt that it had not awarded any direct order to Joseph Portelli’s illegal batching plant at Ta’ Kerċem. But Minister Caruana in a Facebook post on September 8 wrote that her Ministry had obtained “approvals to do emergency works through a direct order.”

Times of Malta, Saturday 9th November 2019

The Minister back then did not say which batching plant it was referring to but, on Saturday, the Times of Malta carried a front page story stating that this direct order was awarded to the illegal concrete batching plant at Ta’ Kerċem. It added that in September tons of cubic metres of concrete from this batching plant were used in an emergency project to fix a road leading to Ramla Bay in Nadur.

Up to the time of the publication of this report the Ministry did not deny the story of Times of Malta.

Watch: Nadur mayor warns that road is hollow underneath the tarmac

Upbeat about an illegality

Government was upbeat about this irregularity – as reported by Times of Malta – so much so that it published photos of Minister Justyne Caruana inspecting the ongoing works. The photos also show the Minister talking to Anthony Bugeja, known as Ix-Xrik, one of the owners of the illegal batching plant.

Questions sent to the Minister

Newsbook.com.mt’s first email to the Gozo Ministry on Friday asked whether this illegal batching plant was was awarded a government direct order.

Newsbook.com.mt’s first email to the Gozo Ministry on Friday asked whether the illegal batching plant Times of Malta reported of on Friday was  awarded a government direct order.

We asked: “Can you kindly advise if the Ministry is aware that material for its projects is being sourced from an illegal batching plants? What steps are being taken to remedy the situation?”

The Ministry probably in an attempt to obscure the issue replied:

“Please clarify about the direct order you are referring to. Furthermore please note that MGOZ has no regulatory role and any procurement is carried out according to needs and specs as required by experts in charge of respective projects.”

We emailed back with a simple question:

“Has the Ministry for Gozo awarded Mr Portelli’s Ta’ Kerċem batching plant any direct order?”

The Ministry gave what yesterday seemed to be a direct answer: “The Ministry for Gozo gave no direct orders to Mr Portelli.”

EC/00068/19 Planning Enforcement Status found on www.pa.org.mt

Double speak by Ministry

Now it transpired that the Ministry used concrete from the illegal batching plant at Ta’ Kerċem and that the name of Joseph Portelli along with the name of other persons is listed in the Planning Authority’s enforcement notice.

Newsbook.com.mt asks whether this is an example of double speak by the Ministry. The basic pointof our query was whether or not the Ministry used concrete from an illegal batching plant. Whether or not the direct order was issued in the name of Portelli or in the name of someone else is secondary. Newsbook.com.mt notes that the answer of the Ministry to our questions on Friday was, at best, misleading.

Newsbook.com.mt asks:

Which Government entity or official authorized the use of concrete from an illegal batching plane and paid tens of thousands of euros for the same concrete?

Who will take responsibility.

Credit: Facebook/Justyne Caruana