Initial tenders for the construction and operation of a tunnel between Gozo and Malta will be published this year as promised, despite the success of a fourth ferry linking the two islands.
“I am informed from Infrastructure Malta that they are moving according to the timelines announced and, as per parliamentary resolution, unanimously approved,” Transport Minister Ian Borg told Lovin Malta.
The proposed tunnel would be 13km long and 500m wide and would link Nadur to the hamlet of L-Imbordin. All Labour and Nationalist MPs voted in favour of the project in a parliamentary debate earlier this year, but Opposition leader Adrian Delia later said he has significant environmental concerns and will wait until studies are concluded before taking a stance on the project.
Although environmental impact studies are still ongoing, Infrastructure Malta has announced that it will publish a pre-qualification questionnaire, the first stage of the tender process, in the coming weeks for businesses interested in planning, building, operating and maintaining the tunnel.
Connectivity between the two islands has long been an issue for Gozitans who commute to Malta for work but Gozo Tourism Association President Joe Muscat has said the recent introduction of a fourth ferry has cast doubt over the necessity of a tunnel.
Instead, he urged the authorities to focus their efforts on introducing a fast ferry service between Mġarr (Gozo) and Valletta and on reintroducing the helicopter service between the two islands.
“As an association that looks at the interests of the tourism sector, we believe that once Gozo is connected to Malta through the two types of sea connection services and the air link we do not see the necessity for the tunnel,” he told the Malta Independent.
“If there is to be a tunnel we believe it should be part of an integrated mass transportation system, like a tube system. If you are going to build this tunnel, give us the ability to commute from Victoria to Valletta, rather than from Victoria to L-Imbordin, from where we would have to navigate through all that traffic in Malta.”