Gozitan residents have been left feeling ignored as a beloved 18th-century fort-turned-residential-complex in Għajnsielem continues to face alarming rates of erosion and neglect.
Overlooking Mġarr Harbour, Fort Chambray was built by the Knights of St. John with the intention to replace the Ċittadella, but the plans never materialised. It played an instrumental part in the French Invasion of Malta in 1798 and was later used as a military hospital and mental institution.
In 2005, Gozo businessman Michael Caruana transformed the fort into a luxury gated community.
And while the fort still evokes a sense of awe, a closer look at the complex tells a tragic story.
Glaringly thick cracks and weeds run through the historic bastions. Some walls look as if one gust of wind could knock out a chunk of them. The ditch, overgrown with flora, features 200-year-old tombstones seemingly tossed on the grounds to rot.
Neighbouring inhabitants have routinely expressed their disappointment at the state of the fort over the years.
“I pass the fort often – it makes me feel so frustrated seeing it get worse over the years. What really gets to me is the state of the walls – they’re in dire need of repair.”
“I even found a few tombstones in the ditch I explored, just left there with weeds growing on them. This isn’t the first time we’ve alerted authorities about the state of Fort Chambray. It feels as if action will only be taken when it’s too late,” a Għajnsielem resident told Lovin Malta.
Caruana had lodged an application with the Planning Authority to proceed with restoration and remedial works to the fort in 2014.
The plans would focus on restorative works on the military complex, comprised of three bastions on the land front and its outworks, two flanks overlooking Mġarr Harbour and Xatt L-Aħmar and a cliff facing the sea.
But six years later, the project is facing bureaucratic issues with the application still undergoing assessment, leaving residents feeling frustrated and ignored.
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