Letters: 20th July 2014

Contracts for Malta Enterprise

I refer to the article that appeared in the newspaper MaltaToday (8 June, “Salary details of Gonzi aide tabled in Parliament”), where after giving details of the earnings to Alan Camilleri between 2006 and 2008, you also mentioned that under the chairmanship at Malta Enterprise there were some companies that were awarded direct orders for the refurbishments of the institute for health care at Gwardamangia to relocate Malta Enterprise offices.

Amongst these companies, Schranz Ltd was mentioned as being one of these named companies that was granted a direct order by Malta Enterprise to carry out the structural works.

We categorically deny this allegation and also detach the involvement of Schranz Ltd in any matter between Alan Camilleri and MaltaToday. It appears that you have either been misinformed or that the actual facts have been distorted. Schranz Ltd has neither participated in any direct orders from Malta Enterprise nor from any other governmental body.

The only two contracts of work that were carried out by Schranz Ltd for public entities since its formation as a company 14 years ago, were Smart City Malta and Malta Enterprise, which were awarded to Schranz Ltd after the submission of formal tenders for works, in competition with other major contractors.

We reiterate that the allegation of a direct order being given to Schranz Ltd is not true and that the contract was awarded to us through a competitive tender. Moreover, we can even declare without reservation that neither me nor any other staff member from the company ever met with Alan Camilleri, or that any other type of contact was made with him by anyone either before the awarding of the contract, during the progress of works or later.

In mid-January 2011 we were invited by architect Reuben Lautier to participate in a competitive tender for the submission of our quotation for the civil works and re-fit, to house the new Malta Enterprise offices at Gwardamagia.

We had submitted our offer as per tender instructions and on the closing date, 7 February 2011, all the envelopes cast from the interested bidders were opened in the presence of the architect Reuben Lautier, Malta Enterprise officials and representatives of the respective bidding companies.

After the adjudication process of all the offers submitted, we were informed that our offer was successful. Consequently, on signing the contract, the works were awarded to us and eventually, all the works were carried out according to the tender specifications and to the client’s satisfaction.

In view of all the aforementioned, we regard the article to be totally misleading and incorrect and detrimental to the company’s reputation.

Joseph Schranz, Managing director, Schranz Ltd

Seabank Hotel

The article ‘Seabank owner announces €150 million land reclamation bid’ (MaltaToday, July 13) makes the claim that the Seabank Hotel is built “on agricultural land”.

This is absolutely not true. In fact, the local plan specifies that the land in question was earmarked for “tourism opportunities”. Furthermore, it was the Department of Agriculture itself which certified that the development could take place.

Arthur Gauci, Chief Executive Officer, Seabank Resort + Spa

Editorial note:
MaltaToday specifically noted that the hotel’s extension was built on agricultural land, as laid down in the Development Planning Application and relevant case officer’s report.

The futility of prayer

On June 8, Pope Francis met the Israeli and Palestinian Presidents at the Vatican to pray for peace in the Middle East.

A few weeks later, hostilities broke out for the umpteenth time between the Israelis and Palestinians. So much for the much-hyped, peace-seeking trip to the Middle East by Pope Francis! The Vicars of Christ have been praying to God for peace in the Middle East since 1986, when Pope John Paul met with other religious leaders for a prayer meeting at Assisi.

A year later, in 1987, violence, rather than peace, broke out in Gaza and the West Bank. And much worse was to follow on 9/11 and during the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.

The facts speak for themselves: thousands of people have been killed in the Middle East through terrorism and war since 1986; towns and cities have been bombarded; and millions of people have been forced to flee their homes and to live in appalling conditions in refugee camps.

God has not responded to the prayers for peace.

As Kant said, “petitionary prayer is a superstitious illusion”.

John Guillaumier, St Julian’s

To park, or not to park, in St Paul’s Bay

One of the worst problems affecting our localities is that of parking facilities, or rather, the lack of them. Being a councillor at St Paul’s Bay has deepened my understanding of how this difficulty is taking its toll on all sections of our communities (residents, visitors, business sector, etc).

All these different categories have diverse priorities which, in this particular case, the local council, Transport Malta, MEPA and the central government try to balance. In a locality that is ever expanding, both vertically and horizontally, the demand for parking spaces will continue growing.

No tailor-made or perfect solutions exist and no one in his right frame of mind will believe that any endeavor to find one can be taken lightly. Yet I strongly believe that measures can be taken to lessen the impact of a problem that is taking its toll on our health and economy. Driving around endlessly, looking for the elusive parking slot, is exacerbating the exhaust fume levels and creating road rage, leading to serious incidents. The lack of parking facilities is affecting also the business community, with potential customers driving away or avoiding the area altogether.

Stating that nothing has been done to deal with the problem would be outright dishonest. Yet the challenge becomes greater daily and a serious attempt to lessen the difficulty is still to be made. An attempt at introducing a resident parking scheme in 2013 did not find the required support. 

I am taking the initiative to invite all interested parties to forward their ideas and suggestions to me on how they think the problem would be best dealt with. This might sound an amateurish way to tackle such a serious problem.  My opinion is that those who are facing the problem, most of whom are themselves a part of it, can come up with schemes or solutions tailor made for our locality and that have been ignored or are being missed by entities that deal with a much larger picture.

The most valid suggestions will be presented to the local council for a serious discussion. With the limited finance at its disposal the council cannot achieve much, but surely alternative ways of funding (EU funding, Commuted Parking Payment Scheme (MEPA) or public-private partnership) can be explored.

Please send your suggestions by August 10, 2014 to [email protected]
Robert Piscopo, St Paul’s Bay local councillor