PN wants follow up action on NAO report that slams Transport Malta over defective RHIB purchases

The Nationalist Party seeks government action on damning National Audit Office report on the purchase of five RHIBs for maritime enforcement purposes

One of the five RHIBS bought on tender by Transport Malta in 2021, which were subsequently deemed to be unseaworthy by a surveyor (Photo: DOI)
One of the five RHIBS bought on tender by Transport Malta in 2021, which were subsequently deemed to be unseaworthy by a surveyor (Photo: DOI)

Updated at 5:08pm with Transport Malta's reaction

The Nationalist Party wants the government to follow up on a damning report by the National Audit Office into the purchase of five rigid hull inflatable boats by Transport Malta.

Party spokespersons Ivan Castillo and Darren Carabott are insisting the Transport Ministry say what action it intends taking and who shall shoulder responsibility for this “disaster”.

They were referring the NAO annual report, which included an investigation into the purchase of five RHIBs by the transport authority for enforcement purposes.

The RHIBs developed problems, which rendered them unusable shortly after the tender was awarded.

In its findings, the NAO noted how the process to purchase the sea vessels was led by one person with insufficient overview from the other members of the team tasked with the project. This resulted in a “suboptimal outcome”, the NAO said.

The audit office also noted the lack of internal controls at TM and a lack of documentation at every stage of the selection process.

The PN MPs called for immediate remedial action to ensure enforcement at sea is carried out as expected, while ensuring the safety of TM’s officers.

“The NAO report clearly shows poor management of this tender, which has resulted in a lack of maritime since the unit does not have enough resources to carry out its job,” Castillo and Carabott said.

The five RHIBS were bought in 2021 but only a year later one of them developed problems and had to be scrapped while the other four were certified by a surveyor to have developed structural damage.

The case was first flagged by independent candidate Arnold Cassola and a subsequent investigation by The Shift found that the boats continued to be used despite the negative assessment.

Transport Malta had clarified that a formal dispute was registered with the supplier and no payments were made.

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Meanwhile, reacting to the NAO's findings, Transport Malta said it is "taking note" of the auditor's conclusions and is taking action on the recommendations made. The authority reiterated that it made no payments whatsoever to the supplier of the RHIBs at the centre of the dispute.