Beachaven is set to be surrounded by a marina for small boats, but the owners of the popular nightclub and restaurant are doing everything possible to stop it from happening.
Meanwhile, Transport Malta is accusing the nightclub owners of squatting on the land for several years, an allegation Beachaven strongly denies.
This saga has its roots in 2009, when the Malta Maritime Authority (which would later become Transport Malta) issued a tender for the management and operation of organised mooring areas for pleasure yachts in Xemxija Bay.
Beachaven owner Godwin Cutajar and Gozo-based Harbour Management Ltd both applied and the contract was awarded to the latter. However, the transport authority later informed the tender winner that its proposed mooring tariff rates were too expensive.
And in an email dated May 2011, the authority informed Harbour Management Ltd director Pierre Balzan that it had cancelled the entire tender process and returned the winning tenderer’s bid bond to them by post, prompting the tenderer to launch court procedures.
As tends to happen in Malta, this court case dragged on for almost a decade, until it was dropped in November 2020 following a compromise reached between Transport Malta and Harbour Management Ltd.
A month later, Beachaven’s owners spotted an “unusual amount” of activity around Xemxija Bay and Transport Malta formally informed mariners that a diving survey will be carried out in the area.
In January, Godwin Cutajar and his son Simon engaged Ganado Advocates to complain to Transport Malta that it should have issued an entirely new tender after terminating the original one back in 2011, confirming their interest to re-apply if this was the case.
Transport Malta responded with an aggressive legal letter, warning the Beachhaven owners have been squatting the land on a commercial basis for a number of years “without any valid titles whatsoever, illegally and abusively”.
It added that its compromise agreement signed with Harbour Management Ltd was a “corrective measure to redress this state of illegality”.
“For the forthcoming five years, the mooring areas at Xemxija will finally be organised and operated within a realm of legality and according to contractual terms and conditions.”
Beachaven’s lawyers asked Transport Malta for a signed copy of the compromise deal, but the authority refused to do so, referring once again to the club’s “legal standing”.
The nightclub’s owners proceeded to file an injunction to stop the marina from being built, as well as to defend their own legal standing.
On their behalf, lawyer Alex Scerri Herrera presented a 55-year-lease, dated 2005, for the operation of Beachaven to dismiss the squatting allegation. Meanwhile, Ganado Advocates asked the Public Contracts Review Board to step in and declare the compromise deal between Transport Malta and Harbour Management Ltd null and void.
Meanwhile, Simon Cutajar has expressed concern that the proposed marina will turn the area into a no-swimming zone and harm his family business right in the midst of a pandemic.
Some citizens have also criticised the way this deal took place behind closed doors.
“This year it’s the Beachaven area, next year it will be another part of Xemxija!” a citizen told Lovin Malta. “Transport Malta and this government are supposed to be accountable to the people, Malta has suffered enough corruption and bad press and yet there shifty out of court settlements continue.
“I’m all for the government investing in Xemxija however this would require building a proper multi million Euro breakwater, development of parking facilities or park and ride and a proper tender.”
Lovin Malta has reached out to Transport Malta for comment.