‘The storm is another argument in favour of Malta-Gozo tunnel’ - Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told One Radio this morning that the Turkish workers' condition of living in tents was 'unacceptable' and that the foreign contractor in charge was warned that permissions would be retracted if situation is not rectified

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was interviewed on Labour's One Radio
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was interviewed on Labour's One Radio

Muscat said that last night’s gale force winds was another argument in favour of the planned tunnel between Malta and Gozo.

“The weather experienced was not normal for the Maltese islands, but this is in effect another argument in favour of the tunnel between the two islands,” Muscat said.

The Gozo Channel is still operating this morning with no particular disruptions and Muscat thanked the employees for their courage, arguing that such a situation was clear that a tunnel was a good idea.

There were over 300 calls for assistance by the Civil Protection Department during the storm which hit Malta in the past hours.

Muscat thanked all the employees—the ‘priceless’ work of the Police, the Civil Protection Department, Clean Malta, and volunteers from St John Ambulance—and called their work a “massive initiative” during the night.

The Environment and Landscape Consortium, Wasteserv and Enemalta are managing the aftermath of the storm.

Muscat listed the areas in Malta that were still experiencing a power cut: Zurrieq, Marsaxlokk, Siggiewi, Mgarr and Zebbug, but congratulated the work that allowed areas in Paradise Bay and Zejtun to get their power back.

“There might be some disruptions in public transport,” Muscat announced, adding that some houses in Sliema were being evacuated following flooding.

Muscat was interviewed on One Radio following the cancellation of a political activity in Pieta’ due to the storm.

During the live segment, the prime minister was asked about the controversial story of Turkish workers living out in tents for accommodation.

“A lot of what was said was untrue. First of all, the number mentioned, of some 5,000 Turkish workers coming here is false—people depicted it as the Great Siege,” Muscat said.

He clarified that the maximum number of workers to be brought to Malta by a foreign contractor was five hundred and it was related to a massive Sliema construction project.

“60 workers have arrived so far and have been living out in tents before they go through a process of residence,” Muscat said, adding that this was not acceptable.

“It’s out of the question. If our legal condition on accommodation is not respected, after a process of residence is followed through, permissions will be retracted and the government advised the contractor on this,” Muscat said.

He insisted that Maltese individuals still outnumbered foreign workers in the construction industry. Five years ago, he said, the number of foreign workers was six in 1000. Now, that number has gone up to seven.

On the leaked Whatsapp video that revealed Muscat celebrating with his wife and friends at his summer residence in Girgenti, the prime minister took the criticism lightly and said that next time he would hire Joseph Calleja to do the signing instead. 

Muscat said that he would be flying to Egypt later on today for an EU summit between Europe and African nations.