A Maltese e-bike owner was left confused after a captain of the Gozo fast ferry from Valletta to Mġarr prohibited him from using an allocated room to store his electrical vehicle.
The captain argued that this would be a “fire hazard” despite the owner’s claim that he’s used these services since “day one”.
Due to this, the owner was made to leave his e-bike outside where it was exposed to sea salt and water that can cause damage to the vehicle.
“I have crossed using this service multiple times and was never told this. Nor is there any mention of such policies anywhere on the company’s website, it actually states that e-bikes are allowed. There was no mention of this in the safety briefing aired on board.”
However, he went on to say that a crew member was smoking right near a “chemical store”, near the bike that the captain deemed a “fire hazard” and allegedly near the view of cameras.
“He also claimed that this was to avoid the risk of lithium fires from the bike’s battery (as they do on planes). However the same captain allowed his crew to smoke less than a metre away from the chemical cabinet on board the same vessel.”
He further said that no issues were raised with other items containing lithium batteries, like cameras which allegedly have a “higher capacity than that of an e-bike” and multiple laptops.
The bike owner went on to criticise the captain’s “obscene” attitude.
“His reasoning was ‘if you don’t like it, get off the ferry’.”
The frustrated man went on to explain the damage that occurs when an e-bike is left outside surrounded by sea salt.
“Since the bike is made of aluminium or carbon, sea spray has a negative effect on the framework – it causes it to corrode. Moreover, the electrical components of any electrical item regularly exposed to sea spray significantly deteriorates.”
“Such deterioration could lead to short circuits and malfunctions – which (a short circuit due to damaged components) is actually the only reason why a lithium battery could potentially catch fire,” he explained.
He went on to say that lithium batteries are “very safe and stable”, he claimed that they’re used for transport, phones and more.
“If they were unstable or posed a fire risk no one would spend three hours going at 20km/h or more on one of them.”
“Lithium batteries catch fire only when damaged or short circuited – on board planes there is the issue of pressurisation which could lead to damage or issues with circuitry. On buses, ferries and so on, where there is no pressurisation, this issue does not exist.”
When addressed about damage, the captain allegedly said that it is “not their problem” because there is no charge to bring a bike on the fast ferry.
The bike owner further alleged that he spoke to the crew about his issue and they informed him that out of four captains, this is the only one that has a problem with storing electric vehicles (scooters and bikes) inside the allocated room.
Lovin Malta has reached out to ferry operators regarding these claims and we are currently awaiting a response.
Has this ever happened to you?