Update – Government bringing 32-year old outdated, obsolete ship to Gozo – PN
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Update with Ministry for Gozo statement below – The PN has stated that “once again the Socialist Government is not taking seriously the difficulties of Gozo, and after wasting six years is now bringing to the island a 32-year old, outdated, obsolete ship with accessibility problems, and offering no new jobs for Gozo.”
So said Opposition Spokesman for Gozo Chris Said, and Nationalist Party MEP candidate Michael Briguglio during a news conference held today in Mgarr Gozo.
They argued that international sites show that this ship was built in 1987, when the average age of the ships used in the Italian and Greek islands is 20 and 11 years respectively.
Chris Said said that the Socialist Government has a negative track record and after 6 years has done nothing to enhance the connectivity between the islands, and instead has removed the cargo service that existed between Sa Maison and Gozo.
“Nothing has been done towards the fast ferry service because the tender was suspended, and after the many promises of a cruise liner terminal in Gozo it has still not materialised,” added Dr Said.
He said that this lack of investment by the Socialist Government in favour of the connectivity between the islands is leading to the growing double insularity of Gozo.
Michael Briguglio pointed out the environmental impact and affordability that an old ship will have, adding that it is crucial for our country to remain competitive in the tourism sector.
He said that it was the Nationalist Party that has “always had a vision in terms of connectivity for the island, it was the PN that invested in Gozo Channel, so that it now has three ships.”
It was also the PN, he said. “that have invested to increase the capacity of the Ta’ Pinu in 2012, and secured European funds to build new terminals in Cirkewwa and Mgarr.”
PN MEPS that are elected will work for European funds to improve the connectivity between Malta and Gozo, as well as investing in a fifth ship to strengthen and increase the frequency of travel, so that when ships need repairs there would be none of the problems that there had been in recent months, Dr Briguglio said.
Present for the news conference were Opposition Spokesperson for Gozo Chris Said, MEP candidate Michael Briguglio, candidate for the local elections in Xaghra Kevin Cutajar and candidate for local elections in Victoria Joseph Ellis.
Ministry for Gozo statement:
Referring to the comments made by the PN on the addition of a fourth ferry to the Gozo Channel fleet, the Ministry for Gozo has pointed out that the last trip made by the Nikolaos was on the 12th of May this year, between Corfu Port and Igoumenitsa in North Western Greece.
The Ministry in a statement said that the ship is certified to sail the high seas in accordance with international maritime regulations. This ship was also certified by the Maltese authorities.
It argued that by adding the fourth ship to the existing fleet, “the efficiency of Gozo Channel will be improved and will alleviate a lot hassle for all those who undergo to cross the channel.”
“Gozo Channel will also be in a position to otherwise make changes to improve the service schedule with three ships dedicated to vehicles and passengers, while another ship will be dedicated to freight,” said the Ministry. Gozo Channel will also be in a better position when undertaking maintenance on the company’s other ships, it added.
According to the Ministry, “the Gaudos, Ta’ Pinu’ and Malita are equipped with engines built in 2000 and which have a level of emissions greater than the Nikolaos. In 2009, the Nikolaos had a full refurbishment process, when among other things new Caterpillar C32 V12 engines were fitted, they are classified as Euro V emissions standard.”
The Ministry went on to explain that “the lease is only short-term on this ship, because of a call for international tender for a ship to meet the requirements and restrictions that the ports in Gozo and Malta pose, due to the fact that the terminals constructed under the Nationalist administrations were built to accommodate the current Gozo Channel ships only.”
The Ministry for Gozo concluded by saying that “this Government is committed to addressing the connectivity problem in the best possible way, and this is not only with the introduction of the fourth ship, but also with the introduction of fast ferries, as well as an air service, and a tunnel between the two islands.”