Plans for Sliema Ferries underground parking resurrected

The government will renew for a second time a permit obtained back in 2012 for the construction of an underground car park at the Sliema Ferries

The government will renew for a second time a permit obtained back in 2012 for the construction of an underground car park at the Sliema Ferries.

The project, initially approved in the autumn of the Gonzi administration in 2012, had been shelved following the election of a Labour government in the 2013 general election due to its high cost.

The government had already applied to renew the permit in 2018, but no work was undertaken in the subsequent years dominated by the pandemic.

During this period infrastructural works in the area were focused on the ferry landing station on which works have dragged on for the past four years.

The 200-vehicle car park, a pet project for former PN environment and works minister George Pullicino, was meant to alleviate parking problems along the Sliema and Gzira Strand. However, no details have been provided on how the new car park will be managed, despite repeated calls from the Sliema local council for the devolution of public car parks in the locality.

Former transport minister Joe Mizzi in 2013 had announced that the car park did not fall within the government’s immediate priorities, which had found the project’s cost exceeded 60% of original projections.

The €7 million project, approved by the PA in December 2012, was expected to be financed by €3.5 million in fees from the PA’s commuted parking payment scheme. But one particular challenge faced by the project was that the Sliema Ferries are located on reclaimed land, which is known for flooding.

When asked by MaltaToday in 2012 how an underground parking facility could be proposed on reclaimed land, Pullicino replied that the government had entrusted a renowned marine engineer, Joe Bugeja, who had designed and constructed maritime works both locally and overseas, to oversee the project.

The original target completion date for the project was set for April 2013.

The proposal included the removal of existing parking landscape areas, excavation works, construction of an underground car park, and an overlying landscaped deck area. The parking facility was to be situated beneath a landscaped garden and included a steel superstructure feature held by steel cables, mimicking a sailing ship, as well as two 20sq.m hexagonal kiosks.

The garden was to feature fountains, the current war memorial, a monument dedicated to Sliema Wanderers football player Tony Nicholl, and another to sculptor Censu Apap.

At present, the site is divided into two parts: approximately half is used as a parking lot, while the other half is landscaped. The site also incorporates 39 on-street car parking spaces.