[WATCH] Front Favur il-Mina says accessibility is key for Gozo residents

Group of university students launch front favur il mina to support long and short term initiatives for better connectivity between Malta and Gozo

Front favur il-mina launched to support better connectivity between Malta and Gozo. Video and photo: Ray Attard
Front favur il-mina launched to support better connectivity between Malta and Gozo. Video and photo: Ray Attard

Video is unavailable at this time.

A group of university students have joined forces to create 'Front Favur il-Mina' to support permanent connectivity between Malta and its sister island.

Speaking at a press conference at Sa Maison, Front member Jonathan Mintoff stressed that Gozo was not just a holiday island and that some 30,000 residents depended on better connectivity between the islands.

"As a front we are in favour of a three-stage approach to tackle issues, both in the short- and long-term," Mintoff said, adding that there were some 1,700 Gozitan students in Malta and over 30,000 employees with many having to travel to Malta on a daily basis.

Front member Beppe Galea said that the group was suggesting a reintroduction of fast ferry services and of merchant vessels from Gozo to the centre of Malta, besides the tunnel, as short-term solutions to connectivity issues.

Galea pointed out that the front supported an open debate about the proposed tunnel between Malta and Gozo, and they encouraged anyone who was in support of this proposal to join in the discussion.

“This tunnel will inevitably put Gozo on a higher level,” front member Carla Galea said.

She added that according to various studies, the €300 million tunnel was the most viable of the long-term initiatives made so far, with the proposed bridge costing an estimated €800 million.

MPs Chris Said and Franco Mercieca attended the conference to show their support for a permanent link between the islands and stressed the need for studies to be carried out quickly in order to have work begin as soon as possible.

Both MPs praised the students for taking the initiative to support better connectivity between the islands.

Said also underlined that the quality of life and progress of the island depended on a permanent link and stressed that Gozo was facing a brain drain, as many young people felt the need to move to Malta in order to enjoy better opportunities.

“We should avoid a situation where Gozo becomes like an elderly home and give young people the choice to live there if they wish,” Mercieca added.

“The ferry service costs millions every year in fuels and maintenance, not to mention the fact that the fleets need to be replaced every thrity years or so, costing some €120 million every time,” Galea added.

Another member of the Front, Marija Cachia stressed that accessibility could also help Gozo’s economy and family income.

“The average family income in Gozo is of €20,000, compared to Malta’s €22,000,” she said, stressing that Gozitan citizens deserved to be treated equally to Maltese citizens.

Speaking on a particularly windy day, Cachia fittingly pointed out that Gozitans had grown accustomed to travelling in bad weather conditions, but that the attitude of complacency towards this should change.

Discussing whether the idea of Gozo as an ecological island would be shattered with such an initiative, Mercieca stressed the needs of the residents of the island, and the importance of accessibility.

The MPs were also asked about the impact that such a tunnel might have on the Gozo Channel, saying that the company would probably be downsized but that appropriate studies would also be carried out to determine the future of the ferry service.

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