The Gozo tunnel will be built, maintained, and operated by the private sector, Franco Mercieca, the head of the project’s steering committee, confirmed. Appearing on Times Talk, Mercieca filled in the gaps on some concerns that people had about the project.
The project will be financed by the private sector
The cost of building the tunnel would be too high for taxpayers to pay, and so the government and a private firm will be in partnership to fund it. They’ll agree on a concession period that will allow the private firm to maintain the tunnel for a specific period of time.
Even though the toll will depend on the final cost of the tunnel, Mercieca insisted that the operator is expected to break even well before the lifespan of the tunnel, which is anticipated to be 100 years.
The current ferries will “probably be replaced and downsized”
Mercieca went on to explain that the current ships – set to be replaced by 2030 – will most likely be replaced by smaller ones. And while these ferries would still carry cars, their main focus would definitely be passengers.
Franco Mercieca went on to say the fourth ferry would be leased (crew and all) instead of being bought. Source: Times of Malta
Despite some controversial points, the majority of the public is still in favour
The building of the 13.5 kilometre tunnel has been a controversial issue since it was first publicly discussed. Despite concerns over the environmental impact due to the increased attraction of tourists and development that the tunnel is bound to encourage, a social impact assessment confirmed that the majority of Maltese and Gozitans are in favour of the project.
The implementation of the tunnel is going ahead
Mercieca emphasised that the tunnel is currently in the implementation stage and the discussion is no longer about whether or not it should happen.
The conceptual design for the tunnel will be out in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, the ferries currently being used will be downsized and replaced once the project is finished.