Activists want Manoel Island contract investigated

Kamp Emergenza Ambjent: ‘The government is powerful enough to stop the development, especially if a contract breach is found by Manoel Island developers’

Matthew Agius
1 April 2017, 12:11pm
Activists want government to investigate possible breach of contract by MIDI plc
Activists want government to investigate possible breach of contract by MIDI plc
Activists from Kamp Emergenza Ambjent (KEA) along with Gzira mayor Conrad Borg Manché urged the government to scrutinise the conditions of the contract signed with the consortium developing Manoel Island to confirm whether MIDI plc is complying with the conditions of the contract.

MIDI plc, who was granted a 99-year concession on the large part of Manoel Island in 2000, recently presented its masterplan which includes a hotel at Fort Manoel, a shopping complex and a casino-hotel at the historic 18th century Lazaretto, retail outlets and luxury low-rise apartments, a helipad and superyacht marina, while taking over also the foreshore including the current swimming spot beneath the fort to build a water taxi pontoon.

MIDI is hosting an open weekend on 8 and 9 April to give the general public an opportunity to view the restoration works to date.

Gzira residents and activists have opposed any development, arguing that Manoel Island should be returned to the public and developed into a national park. One resident present for the press conference could be heard shouting that any development would take place “over my dead body”.

“The consortium’s behaviour ever since signing the contract cannot be ignored,” KEA said, questioning whether any restoration works have even commenced on Fort Manoel.

“After 16 years, people are finally appreciating the beauty of this place. Manoel Island is under threat and the fort is going to be changed into a hotel simply to satisfy a certain class of people.”

The activists pointed out that permits for restoration works should have been applied for since the contract was signed six months ago. But none of this took place.

“The contract must be scrutinised by the government to see whether MIDI has lived up to its obligations,” they said.

A letter has also been sent to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

“We believe that the government is powerful enough to stop this development, especially if there’s a suspected breach of contract.”

KEA reiterated that Manoel Island should be transformed into a national park.

Borg Manché argued that a breach of contract did take place. The proposal before the contract was signed was “far different” to what is being proposed today, lawyer and environmental activist Claire Bonello said.

She pointed out that there had been no mention of the Fort being changed into a hotel.

“What sort of access will be granted to the public if it’s privatised? It won’t be open to the public for free; swimmers won’t have safe access if a water taxi pontoon is set up.”

The mayor went on to add that the fortress, currently listed to become a world heritage site by UNESCO, will never achieve such status if it’s developed into a luxury hotel.

Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...