Updated | Ombudsman dismisses Nationalist MP’s claims on Mellieha bypass

The Commissioner for Environment and Planning concluded that there did not appear to be any irregularities by the authorities

The Ombudsman's office did not find any irregularities in local authorities' handling of the development
The Ombudsman's office did not find any irregularities in local authorities' handling of the development

Updated 11am with Robert Cutajar clarification

The Commissioner for Environment and Planning within the Ombudsman’s office has dismissed a number of claims made by Nationalist MP Robert Cutajar regarding the way in which work on the Mellieha bypass was carried out. 

Last May, the Cutajar asked the Ombudsman’s office to investigate whether there had been any misadministration on the part of the Lands Authority, the Planning Authority or Transport Malta. Cutajar had described the handling of the case as “very suspicious”.

The government had originally intended to narrow the bypass from a four-lane to a three-lane road but was eventually forced to backtrack after a public outcry against the plans. 

Speaking in parliament, Cutajar said he had asked the Ombudsman to revise the decision and for him to given the opportunity to testify himself.

In its reply, which was tabled in parliament by Transport Minister Ian Borg, the Ombudsman’s office said it did not appear that the development adjacent to the road had encroached on public land.

“It appears that part of the service road is on public land, part is on the developer’s land,” it said. “This service road is public and was constructed for technical reasons since an exit directly onto a bypass is not permitted.”

Turning to the Planning Authority, the Ombudsman said that after analyzing case files, it had concluded that a decision had been taken after consultation with stakeholders and that there did not appear to be any irregularities.

It added that the fact that plans had been amended after they were approved does not not necessarily indicate that the project was not handled in an appropriate manner since planning laws allowed for amendments to be made.

Moreover, the investigation found that Transport Malta had carried out work in accordance with the project’s plans, which indicated a three lane road and a cycle lane on the road’s Southbound carriageway. 

It noted that Transport Malta had operated on the basis of a number of factors, including a 2004 report by French consultants, that had found that the wide nature of the road encouraged reckless driving. “Regarding speed limits, it transpires that a 40km/hour limit was set for safety reasons.” 

Finally, the investigation found that an incidence where the name of different architects were placed on plans submitted in 2014 appeared to have been a genuine mistake.

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