Captain Morgan gives in to public pressure, drops plans for Balluta jetty

Plans for an announced hop-on, hop-off ferry berth run by the owners of the Fortina hotel, were met with protests from NGOs and residents • Captain Morgan now looking at alternative landing sites

In May, Movement Graffitti activists blocked works on the landing place for the Fortina Group's hop-on hop-off sea service
In May, Movement Graffitti activists blocked works on the landing place for the Fortina Group's hop-on hop-off sea service

The Fortina Group’s Captain Morgan cruises company has decided not to build the controversial Balluta jetty and said it is now “evaluating alternative sites after listening to the public’s concerns”.

Residents and NGOs had vehemently opposed plans for a jetty for a hop-on hop-off ferry in a popular bathing spot. They protested at the site where works were set to take place after locals alerted activists that a barge carrying a digger had arrived on site.

The Captain Morgan ferry company, owned by the Fortina group, had requested a planning permit to occupy nearly the entire seashore on the left of Balluta bay for its catamaran service.

Environmental NGOs and residents had protested against the plans, with Movement Graffitti activists blocking works in May.

A Captain Morgan spokesperson said the company’s goal was to create a “maritime transportation node” in St Julian’s that would have created a maritime loop for tourists and locals on a route linking Sliema, St Julian’s, Bugibba and even Gozo. The company claims the ferry would have reduced car journeys between these points.

“Captain Morgan has taken the responsible decision not to proceed with the building of the jetty in the Balluta area and we hope to identify an alternative location, in consultation with the St Julian’s council and relative NGOs,” a spokesperson said.

Alternatives include the jetty being built between the St Julian’s and Neptunes water polo clubs.

“We are sensitive to genuine concern, wherever it’s coming from. The sentiment has been clearly against, so we are discarding our original plans and studying the best alternative options, which we plan to discuss with the local council and NGOs,” a spokesperson said.

“We believe this is the right decision in the prevailing circumstances, even though the jetty is covered with all the planning and environmental permits required at law, and the area in question does not fall within an official swimming zone. Meanwhile, the company has also directed its architects and lawyers to withdraw all applications for the Balluta jetty, with immediate effect.”