Four bidders interested in Malta-Gozo tunnel project

When the first phase of the tendering process for the Malta-Gozo tunnel closed on Thursday, the government received four submissions

Gozo tunnel will be 14km long
Gozo tunnel will be 14km long

Updated at 6:23pm with Gozo Business Chamber reaction

Government received four submissions for the construction of the Malta-Gozo tunnel when the deadline for the first phase of the tendering process closed today.

Offers were submitted by two consortiums and two companies, which Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg described as the “giants of infrastructural development”.

He said the companies that submitted offers came from Italy, Turkey, China, Japan and the Netherlands.

The companies are: Salini Impregilo S.p. A., CGYI Malta Gozo Consortium, Equitix – Itochu – Yapi Merkezi – Makyol – Egis Consortium and Malta Gozo Fixed Link Limited.

READ ALSO: French State company, Hugo’s owner and Chinese bridge study financier, among Gozo tunnel bidders

The government issued a pre-qualification questionnaire last January and the deadline for submissions closed on Thursday morning. This is the first phase in the lengthy tendering process for the design, build, maintenance and operation of the 14km tunnel.

An evaluation committee will determine whether the bidders have satisfied the criteria laid out in the questionnaire. Those that do will proceed to the second phase when a competitive dialogue on infrastructural technicalities will take place.

Infrastructure Malta CEO Fredrick Azzopardi said a Norwegian expert who has been helping the government for years will continue assisting the agency throughout the evaluation process.

Azzopardi said the tunnel will ensure that traffic to and from Gozo will bypass Xemxija and Mellieħa, where severe bottlenecks in the road network exist.

Borg said the tunnel project will be completely financed by the private companies and they would recover the expenditure over the length of the concession through a toll system.

“Government will not be financing the capital expenditure,” he said.

Asked about the inert waste that will be generated, Borg said the tender will include a condition that the waste will remain government’s property. “To us that is a resource, not waste and it will remain government property,” Borg said.

Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri the end of the first phase signals another step closer to the realisation of the tunnel project.

“The tunnel project has long been talked about and it had become almost a joke given the topic was raised every now and then but nothing concrete ever happening. This government has moved forward and we are now a step closer,” Camilleri said.

The director general of contracts Anthony Cachia said the bidding process was public and transparent, dismissing concerns over corruption that overshadowed other major projects over the past years.

Cachia said the names of the bidders will be known and at every stage of the process, aggrieved parties will have the right to appeal.

Gozo Business Chamber says tunnel project necessary

The next phase in the Gozo-Malta tunnel project was welcomed by the Gozo Business Chamber, which noted that the submission of four bids in the current economic climate showed that the project generated considerable interest.

 

 

It said the project was "necessary" if Gozo was to continue moving forward and be an important contributor to the national economy.

"This project is necessary now more than ever. Though there have been many significant developments in the past years, Gozo was not in a position to participate fully in the national economy, mainly due to issues related to accessibility," the GBC said.

The chamber added that while it was in favour of all forms of accessibility, the fact that the link between the two islands will be a permanent one, would ensure the required peace of mind to potential investors.

"Moreover, Gozo can specialise in particular segments of the economy, as accessibility between the two islands will no longer be a concern," the chamber said.

However, it insisted that the project should not in any way impinge on Gozo’s environment and called for a holistic plan to ensure the sustainable development of Gozo.

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