Watch: ‘Fast-ferry service will happen’ – Minister Caruana

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The tender for the fast-ferry service between Malta and Gozo would be issued for the third time, Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana said. 

Minister Caruana explained that the accessibility between the two islands is expected to improve once the fast-ferry service is in place. She observed that accessibility improved when the fourth ferry started operating.

Speaking to Newsbook.com.mt, Caruana explained that the fast-ferry service was an electoral promise in Partit Laburista’s election manifesto. Describing the tendering process as “complex”, she said that it has been suspended with the aim of making a fresh call. The tendering process is in the hands of the Transport Ministry, however, the Gozo Channel is in Caruana’s portfolio. The Minister explained that she could “potentially” be involved in the process. 

A request for proposals was issued in 2017 by the Transport Ministry. The request sought interested parties wanting to offer the service in conjunction with the state-owned ferry company Gozo Channel. 

The request was subsequently cancelled when an evaluation committee had concluded that Virtu Ferries had made the best offers and talks were already underway. 

Read: Gozo-Malta fast ferry tender cancelled by the review board

A slightly modified call was then issued. The Gozo Ministry had then announced that the Islands Ferry had been selected as a partner. The decision was challenged, with the Public Contracts Review Board (PCRB) cancelling the contract awarded by Gozo Channel to Island Ferry Network for a fast ferry service between Malta and Gozo, after it was declared “ineffective”.

Addressing MEPs and representatives of the four Mediterranean regions, the Minister said she would not be focusing her address on the tunnel. 

Read: Fast ferry Service: Court grants appeal presented by Virtù Ferries

Speaking about the second fibre optic cable between Malta and Gozo, Caruana said that the work has started. In November, an ICT Hub will be inaugurated in Gozo. Caruana said that international firms have shown their interest to operate in Gozo, thus creating job opportunities on the sister island.

08 October 2019, 08WS344 – Mediterranean Insularity: challenges and futurer#EURegionsWeekrBelgium – Brussels – October 2019r© European Union / Patrick MascartrrJustyne CARUANA, Minister, Ministry for Gozo, Malta.

During her address, Caruana also spoke about the Gozo Regional Development Authority which would be assessing the impact of various initiatives prior to their commencement. 

There should be more flexibility when applying state aid rules to islands

The Minister for Gozo said that more flexibility is needed when applying state aid rules to islands. Speaking at the Committee of Regions, Caruana spoke of the Ministry’s efforts to promote sustainable development.