Rival bidders object to Gozo tunnel project shortlist

Out of four bidders, only one company was shortlisted to design and build the tunnel

Two bidders for the Malta-Gozo tunnel project have filed objections after a single bidder was shortlisted to design and build the tunnel.

After only a single bidder made it to the tender shortlist, two out of four bidders are appealing the decision, maintaining that they were fully compliant with the requirements of the pre-qualification questionnaire.

The objecting bidders are Malta Gozo Fixed Link and CGYI Malta Gozo Consortium TID.

Malta Gozo Fixed Link argued that the contracting authority failed to adhere to the procedures previously indicated in the PQQ, leading to irregularities in the competitive process.

This should have led to the automatic cancellation of the PQQ procedure, the company argued.

Additionally, the company stated that the reasons for failure to be shortlisted are unfounded in fact and at law.

It maintained that the clarification requested by the authority was fully addressed, and that it was in full compliance with the technical and professional requirements outlined in the PQQ.

Meanwhile, CGYI Malta Gozo Consortium were disqualified from the tendering process on the basis that it did not meet the minimum score required in the Technical and Professional Capabilities section.

However, in its objection letter the company refers to a typographical error. In one of the documents presented to a member of the joint venture, the number of prosecutions in two of the three columns was mistakenly listed as “3” instead of “0”.

The PQQ had stated that a participant with five or more prosecutions or significant accidents in tunneling projects would not be eligible for participation in the tendering process.

Due to the errors, the company appeared to have six prosecutions, leading to its immediate disqualification from the tendering process.

CGYI Malta Gozo Consortium is made up of four companies: China Communications Construction Co. Ltd, Intertoll Infrastructure Developments BV, YDA Insaat Sanayi VE Ticaret Anonim Sirketi, and Gullermak Agir Sanayi Insaat ve Tahhut AS.

China Communications Construction had financed a feasibility study into a bridge between Malta and Gozo soon after the Labour Party was elected to government.

All foreign, the companies largely focus on road construction projects, including tunnels and motorway infrastructure.

Malta Gozo Fixed Link Limited is made up solely of Maltese investors, including the son of the late Hugo Chetcuti as one of its shareholders. None of the investors in this company seem to have experience in large infrastructural works.

The only bidder to make the shortlist was a consortium of five companies. These include UK-based Equitix, Japanese company Itochu, the French construction company Egis, and two Turkish construction companies named Yapi Merkezi and Makyol.

As is procedure, technical negotiations will be held with the shortlisted bidders on the proposed project.

Transport minister Ian Borg had said that the tunnel project will be completely financed by the winning bidder, with no capital expenditure financed by government.

The Malta-Gozo tunnel was an electoral pledge from the Labour Party, and had received bipartisan support in parliament when the motion was put forward by ministers Ian Borg and Justyne Caruana.

However, the project was originally the brainchild of former PN minister Chris Said. When the motion was tabled in parliament, Caruana pointed out that there was going to be an element of continuity, with the Labour administration finishing what the Nationalist administration started.

The proposed tunnel will have entrances at Nadur in Gozo and l-Imbordin in Malta. Studies show that the project is expected to generate one million cubic metres of waste.

A MaltaToday survey from 2019 found that 60.9% of the public was in favour of the project, with agreement on the tunnel cutting across all age, gender, and location demographics.

However, it is unclear whether the introduction of a fast ferry service between Malta and Gozo has impacted the public opinion on whether the tunnel project is necessary for increased connectivity.