Fortina Group stated that NGO Graffitti is ‘hellbent on conducting a malicious smear campaign with the sole objective of tarnishing our company’s reputation’.
It stated this in a statement referring to the media coverage of a press release issued yesterday by Graffitti, saying that the statement is ‘riddled with lies and misinformation’. Fortina Group set out to outline their points individually.
On the jetty question in St. Julian’s concerning the company’s hop-on, hop off service, Fortina Group stated that it will be of temporary nature and will not be in an area used by bathers as is claimed by Graffitti. Furthermore, it will not be reserved for exclusive use of Captain Morgan.
On the question of the 133-metre pier allegedly being constructed in Comino to provide berthing facilities for the vessels of Captain Morgan, Fortina Group said that it has held no discussions with government over this pier. Furthermore, should there be such a pier, to say it would be reserved for the exclusive use of Captain Morgan is ‘ludicrous’.
Graffitti also said that the inter-island ferry tender was amended to suit the company. This is because it outlined that instead of a fast ferry, meant to help Gozitans address mobility challenges, the latest tender document requests the provision of a hop-on hop-off service – the kind of ferry service that is offered by Captain Morgan. Such a service is meant for tourists.
However, Fortina Group said that this is a blatant lie, and that Graffitti ‘would do well to read the press releases issued by the Malta Transport Authority and the Gozo Ministry clearly stating the opposite of what Graffiti is claiming’. Furthermore, the company instituted legal proceedings before the Public Contracts Review Board in relation to this tender and, now that the board accepted their arguments, the tender was amended. Only after this development is the company assessing the possibility of becoming a bidder in a process that is open to all operators.
Graffitti outlined that the Planning Authority also gave the green light to the Fortina Hotel in Sliema to extend its lido facilities over 625sqm through land reclamation. Fortina were also allowed to use public land to develop it for non-touristic purposes following changes in the conditions of the original concession.
However, Fortina stated that what Graffitti omitted is that all the land pertaining to the Fortina re development, including the lido, was always owned freehold in its entirety by the group. However, a restriction had been placed by government on a small section of site. The group is paying €8.1 million to government to remove the restriction on this specific parcel of land.
Graffitti stated that Captain Morgan was “chosen” by the government to supply vessels to house migrants and received €3,000 a day per vessel. According to the Fortina Group, what it omits to mention is that another company was paid an alleged €6,500 per day for the use of just one vessel of a similar size.
The statement by Fortina Group concludes with a final point on the Zammit Tabone family. ‘What the Zammit Tabone Family has actually done is ceased using its older vessels and invested millions of euros in brand new eco-friendly vessels that are being used on the same routes Captain Morgan has been operating for over 40 years’.