[WATCH] Gzira residents protest against blocked Manoel Island foreshore

Gzira local council leads protest at Manoel Island, urging MIDI consortium to open up island's foreshore to the island 

Residents gathered in support for Gzira local council's call to open up Manoel Island foreshore to the public • Photo Chris Mangion
Residents gathered in support for Gzira local council's call to open up Manoel Island foreshore to the public • Photo Chris Mangion
Residents gathered in support for Gzira local council's call to open up Manoel Island foreshore to the public • Photo Chris Mangion
Residents gathered in support for Gzira local council's call to open up Manoel Island foreshore to the public • Photo Chris Mangion
Gzira local council urge MIDI consortium to open up Manoel Island's foreshore • Video Chris Mangion

Around 200 Gzira residents and activists gathered in protest at Manoel Island, calling on the MIDI consortium who runs the island to open up its foreshore to the public. They walked up the street and hung posters demanding public access on the gate that MIDI has erected to block access to the island.

Ta' Xbiex PL mayor Max Zammit and Sliema PN councillor John Pillow were present at the protest, the latter in his personal capacity.

They gathered in support for Gzira's local council, who has filed a judicial protest against MIDI, noting that their concession to develop Manoel Island and Tigne specifically excludes its foreshore.

"Gzira is located by the sea and yet its residents have nowhere else to swim in their own locality," mayor Conrad Borg Manche had told MaltaToday.

MIDI chief executive Luke Coppini told MaltaToday last week that turning Manoel Island's foreshore into a free-for-all swimming zone is not an option, as it risks opening the floodgates to vandalism and drug abuse on the island. 

Residents gathered in support for Gzira local council's call to open up Manoel Island foreshore to the public • Photo Chris Mangion
Residents gathered in support for Gzira local council's call to open up Manoel Island foreshore to the public • Photo Chris Mangion
Residents gathered in support for Gzira local council's call to open up Manoel Island foreshore to the public • Photo Chris Mangion
Residents gathered in support for Gzira local council's call to open up Manoel Island foreshore to the public • Photo Chris Mangion

MIDI was granted a 99-year consortium back in 2000 on condition that they regenerate the two former military bases. However, while it restored Fort Manoel, the consortium focused most of its energy into developing Tigne into a high-end residential and commercial centre.

Their original plans for Manoel Island were to develop it into a marina village, complete with a marina, a boutique hotel, leisure and sports facilities, and a casino. Coppini admitted last year that the project could cost up to €500 million, which could force MIDI to rope in a majority shareholder. He told MaltaToday last week that a "very high" level of interest exists among potential investors for the project.

The concession binds MIDI into developing both Manoel Island and Tigne by March 2023. If it fails to comply, it will be fined €350 per day for the first six months of delay, rising to €1165 per day after six months. If the delay persists for three years, the government will be obliged to tear up the entire contract.

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