Saturday’s radio programme ‘Ghandi x’nghid’ conducted by Andrew Azzopardi discussed the situation in Gozo. These were the highlights of the points made by Minister Giovanna Debono and Labour Gozo spokesman Anton Refalo:
· The extensive infrastructure works that are taking place all at the same time in some of the most frequently used roads and streets in Gozo – this is creating serious problems for the residents living in those areas.
· The ‘permanent link’ between Malta and Gozo – the Minister of Gozo said that a preliminary study has been concluded – Refalo says that PL agrees with this permanent link and will see it through if Labour is in Government and if it is sustainable.
· Gozo should be represented on the MCESD – Refalo can’t understand why there was all that resistance to this initiative but now all has changed and Gozo will be represented in the MCESD.
· According to Refalo, there is no coordination between Arriva and the Gozo Channel. Minster Debono spoke about the substantial improvement in the public transport in Gozo.
· Refalo feels that accessibility to Gozo is still very weak and it will keep affecting negatively the development of this Island.
· No air link yet even though according to Refalo there was a promise by this Government to ensure this aerial link. Minister Debono said that it’s financially unsustainable at this point.
· Refalo said that the contractor that parked his truck and blocked the ferry has a free hand to do what he wants. Minster Debono rebutted this by saying that he has been prosecuted for his behaviour.
· Minister Debono talked about the commitment of the present Government to commission new boats and new terminals. Refalo said that due to lack of planning boats have been installed with new platforms to increase capacity which have almost cost as much as a boat to install. Refalo said that he was given this information by the ex-chairman of the Gozo Channel.
· Terminals will be costing €185 million against the €80 million that were originally planned according to Refalo. He also said that it took 13 yeasts to complete this terminal. Minister Debono said that Mgarr is a problematic port because a Labour Government had reduced its size.
· The cargo service has been stopped which has caused problems for the people, the tourists and the companies themselves. Minister Debono said that Gozo Channel are trying to schedule the cargo transport to avoid peak travelling times.
· Low cost airlines have not contributed in any way to the development of the tourist industry in Gozo according to Refalo.
· Refalo said that the reason why the Gozo boats are not being used to commute to Sicily is so that Virtu Rapids are given a commercial edge. Minster Debono says that this argument is over stretched.
· Gozo Channel riority boarding – it’s not clear what the procedure is.
· In June all road works will be ready. Minister said that the contractors are not ready to work in the evening, at night and on Sundays. Minister Debono said that if she imposes this in the contracts she would not find contractors ready to take up the work. Refalo disagreed.
· Wardens are being brought over from Malta because the Gozitan wardens were not giving enough tickets.
· According to Refalo there were 4% less Maltese people who went to Gozo according to official statistics he was quoting – Minister Debono disagreed.
· Gozo does not have an NSO office and so Gozo related data is not so easy to collate. This should be remedied according to Anton Refalo.
· Both guests agreed that they would like to see more back office work and services transferred to Gozo.
· Minister Debono said that a lot or refurbishing is happening in the Gozo hospital.
· Minister Debono also mentioned the success and effectiveness of eco-Gozo.
· Refalo feels that the PN will lose the coming election because the PN has lost touch with the needs of people.
On demand/archives link: http://andrewazzopardi.org/ghandi-x-nghid-radio-show/