[WATCH] Residents up in arms over proposed Balluta Bay ferry landing

St Julians and Sliema residents insist that a proposed ferry landing in Balluta Bay will disrupt swimmers and is nothing more than a project to accomodate the Fortina Group's investment in a hop-on hop-off ferry

The St Julians and Sliema local councils and several NGOs are opposed to the ferry landing plans in Balluta Bay
The St Julians and Sliema local councils and several NGOs are opposed to the ferry landing plans in Balluta Bay
Residents up in arms over proposed Balluta Bay ferry landing

Balluta bay risks sharing the fate of the Sliema Ferries, as a planning application for a tourist ferry berth means private interests once again trump those of the public in the “siege of Malta by commercial interests.”

This was the thrust of a joint press conference organised by 10 NGOs and the local councils of both Sliema and St. Julians.

All of the organisations are opposing the application for a recently announced hop-on, hop-off ferry berth run by the owners of the Fortina hotel.

The application has residents up in arms. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” one Sliema resident, Joanne Pace, told the MaltaToday. “This ferry is not intended for people to go shopping with, it is for the Zammit Tabona’s to make money.”

Speaking on behalf of the NGOs, Moviment Graffitti’s Andre Callus told assembled residents that the project will “change the the bay completely” leading to intensive commercialisation. “Private interests completely took over the public interest. There are already no spaces which are not commercialised and now they want to take over the sea too.”

Callus warned of the environmental damage the project would cause, saying the pollution it would produce would be “potentially devastating” to marine ecosystems.

But the main takeaway from today’s gathering was that Balluta would end up like the Ferries in Sliema: not the people’s, but commercially taken over.

The same company that made the application for the construction of the berth runs cruises from the Sliema Ferries area, said the organisations, pointing to the rampant commercialisation of the latter.

“Don’t try to fool us that it’s a transport move, it is only for tourists and profit for Fortina,” Callus said.

“We are objecting to the operation of a ferry from the middle of a swimming bay,” said founder and chairperson of Futur Ambjent Wiehed, lawyer Claire Bonello. “There are issues of safety, there are issues of commercial takeup, there are issues of pollution.”

St. Julians mayor Albert Buttigieg said the locality had been taken over by commercial interests and that residents are being driven away. He said he was there to show that “’residents come first’ is not just a slogan.”

Buttigieg called for a serious study to be carried out before any construction and not be “steamrollered over by private interests.”

“The policies are clear: this is not the place for it.” He called on residents to be “active, assertive and show they were not afraid.”
Mayor of Sliema Anthony Chircop said the situation was now intolerable and urged all to resist the planned projects. “If we can’t fix what we broke, let’s at least not make it worse.”

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