[WATCH] Footbridge over Mrieħel’s ‘road of death’ still unfinished one year on

Two deadlines have passed, but lifts on the footbridge have not been installed, leaving it unfinished

The unfinished footbridge over the Mrieħel bypass, with lifts still not installed one year past the deadline. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
The unfinished footbridge over the Mrieħel bypass, with lifts still not installed one year past the deadline. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
MaltaToday visited the incomplete Mrieħel footbridge

The footbridge over the Mrieħel bypass remains inaccessible to anyone unable to climb stairs as the project is one year late.

Lifts on either side of the footbridge have not yet been installed, with the company entrusted with its construction unable to say when this would be done.

The original deadline for the completion of the bridge was February 2017, however, when it was apparent this would not be met, the scheduled date was extended by Transport Malta to June 2017.

However, Steel Structures Ltd, the company awarded the contract to build the bridge missed both deadlines.

To date the bridge has not been officially opened despite the erection of  a plaque commemorating two girls who were killed on the bypass in 2005.

Emma Marie Housley, 17 and Graziella Fenech, 13 were mowed down as they crossed the busy road to go home after visiting a friend in the centre of Qormi. They formed part of a small community that was cut-off from the rest of Qormi when the bypass was built with no provisions for pedestrian crossings.

The footbridge had been promised by previous Nationalist administrations until plans were scrapped after 2008. The Labour Party promised to build the bridge in its 2013 manifesto.

 The empty shaft were the lifts should have been installed. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
The empty shaft were the lifts should have been installed. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday

In December last year Transport Malta filed a judicial protest against Steel Structures Ltd, claiming that the company failed to finish the works within the stipulated time, through “carelessness and negligence”, and accused it of breaching the contract’s conditions.

Transport Minister Ian Borg told Parliament last month that the lifts should be installed by the end of February. He was responding to a parliamentary question made by Karol Aquilina.

The contract was awarded by the government as part of a 20-year concession agreement. The company which built the bridge was also given exclusive rights to the revenue earned from advertising placed on the bridge’s surfaces.

Asked by this newspaper to explain the delay, Kurt Cini, owner of Steel Structures Ltd, said that the lifts had not yet been installed due to “technical issues encountered”. He did not elaborate.

“The lifts are now in Malta and shall be installed in the near future,” Cini said.

Cini denied that the lack of completion of the bridge was due to his company facing financial difficulties. Steel Structures Ltd is facing a number of court cases from companies over monies owed.

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