Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg and Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana announced that an invitation has been issued for interested companies or consortia to participate in the first of a three-stage process to identify the concessionaire who will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Malta-Gozo tunnel. Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights Clint Camilleri and Mr Franco Mercieca Chairman of the Malta-Gozo Steering Committee were also present. CEO of Infrastructure Malta, Ing. Fredrick Azzopardi delivered a technical presentation about the latest developments of the Malta-Gozo tunnel project, including the concessionaire selection process that is being launched this week.
Minister Ian Borg said, “as people from an island we were always aware of the connectivity issue. As Maltese and Gozitans, the governments of this country, for a long time have felt that the Gozitans should benefit from a permanent link. Today, we have arrived at an important unprecedented stage because we are working on a vision that looks at Malta and Gozo as two islands nearer to each other. And we recognise the importance of this commitment. Therefore, in the manner with which the call has been issued, we have to ensure that whoever comes forward to bid has the necessary capacities to deliver a sustainable project with high standards.”
Prospective bidders have three months, until Thursday 9th April 2020, to answer a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) to demonstrate their experience in similar tunnel developments, to show their environmental and health and safety record and to attest they have the technical capabilities and financial standing to successfully implement this project.
The call for this PQQ was internationally announced earlier this week in the European Union’s Journal. All relevant documentation and submission forms are available through the Government’s online procurement system – www.etenders.gov.mt (IM049/2019). The duration of the concession will be determined in the final stages of this process. At the end of the concession period, the concessionaire will be required to transfer the tunnel infrastructure to the Government.
“We have to create more opportunities for Gozitans and we have to give them the security that whatever the weather they will be able to travel from one island to the other, a trip that they make on a daily basis, many times more than once. We understand and appreciate that this capital project brings with it a number of discussions and there are therefore a number of environmental, economic and social safeguards. But we have to continue working tirelessly to deliver this important infrastructure that is being planned with a social spirit and on the principle of equity”, concluded Minister Ian Borg.
From her end, Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana spoke about the mission that the Ministry for Gozo has for the island, that of Gozo being in the centre of the Government’s work and also about the Government’s commitment towards this project as being a clear sign of this. She described the project as one of the largest ones that the country ever embarked on and remarked that Gozo has great potential and that the Government’s work is already bearing fruit. This is because according to recent statistics, in one year the economic growth in Gozo was that of 13%, there was an unprecedented increase in jobs for Gozitans in Gozo and tourism in Gozo has increased substantially.
“The success that we achieved not only has to be maintained but most importantly we have to develop it further. In this context, accessibility is crucial and therefore the Malta-Gozo tunnel project is a game changer towards more investment, more business and a better quality of life for Gozitans. This project is in the centre of the regional development strategy for Gozo so that Gozo truly reaches its potential and the aspirations of Gozitans”, concluded Minister Carurana.
The Malta-Gozo Tunnel Project includes the development of a 14-kilometre, partly subsea, tunnel accommodating two vehicle lanes, one in each direction and a wide central buffer with additional space for emergency vehicles.
The planning of the Malta-Gozo Tunnel Project started several years ago. In 2018, Infrastructure Malta issued a pre-information notice, which announced its intention to launch a competitive process to confirm the concessionaires required to develop this new infrastructure. During the same year, the agency also engaged a team of independent experts approved by the planning and environmental authorities to conduct an extensive environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the proposed project. In 2019, work on the preliminary studies necessary to launch this process intensified.