With an ever-expanding traffic problem, the government has turned its eyes to address the issue through the arguably short term measure of improving Malta’s road network, with a mass transport system seemingly on the back burner for the time being.
A €700 million kitty is set to be dished out among the money-hungry road contractors. However, questions still remain over who exactly stands to benefit the most, with Malta’s environment suffering the most.
A freedom of information request by Lovin Malta has revealed every single road contract and direct order given out from January 2013 to September 2019, to uncover the millions road developers have earned in the past few years.
After weeks of shifting through muddled information, these are the companies raking in millions off of Malta’s roads:
1. Ayhanlar Yol Asfatlama San. Tic. A.S: €38,894,356
The Turkish company entrusted with the Marsa junction project, the largest government road’s contract to date. The decision to award a foreign operator did not go down with rivals-bidders Trinità JV, a consortium of Maltese road builders composed of RM Construction Ltd, V&C contractors, Schembri Barbros Ltd and others.
Competitors filed an appeal with the Public Contracts Review Board but were shot down. The Turkish company’s proposal was cheaper. However, questions remain over the lower wages offered.
2. Asfaltar: € 25,300,071
Directors: Ian Magro and Paul Magro
Shareholders: Loyka Limited (John Magro and Rita Magro) and Naipaul Holdings Limited (Ian Margo and Paul Magro)
Asfaltar has reaped the rewards off of Malta’s road development, finding itself involved in most major government projects.
The company currently forms part of RM Construction, the joint venture that was awarded €15 million developing an underpass at the Tarxien-Santa Lucija roundabout.
RM Construction, which is made up of Asfaltar, Bonnici Bros, and Schembri Infrastructures, also formed part of the coast road project, estimated to cost a total of €49 million*.
The entire Coast Road joint venture was made up Polidano Brothers Ltd, Philip Agius and Sons and Central Asphalt Ltd; and RM Construction Ltd. The amount has been divided equally between the parties. This is roughly €12,250,000 per company.
Asfaltar is also part of Bitmac Limited, a joint venture with V&C Contractors and Schembri Barbros, to oversee the Central Link project, at a total fee of €28,419,792.98.
Estimated earnings from each of these three projects have been added to their total.
*The 49 million was not in the FOI request but was uncovered through a parliamentary question from former Infrastructure Minister Joe Mizzi.
3.Bonnici Bros: € 21,405,470
Directors: Alexis Bonnici, David Bonnici, Gilbert Bonnici, Joseph Bonnici, Michaela Bonnici, Samuel Bonnici
Shareholders: John Bonnici Limited, Mario Bonnici Limited, Mario Bonnici, Emanuel Bonnici Limited, Emmanuel Bonnici, Benjamin Bonnici Limited, Benjamin Bonnici
The brainchild of four brothers, the company is a leading figure in the construction industry. It forms part of RM Construction and was involved in the Coast Road and Tarxien projects.
The company has other government interests, receiving over €5 million in direct orders for works at the Ta’ Kandja shooting range.
4. Philip Agius & Sons: €21,292,565
Directors: Mario Aguis, Martin Agius, Peter Paul Agius, Thomas Agius
Shareholders: PH. Agius & Sons Holdings Limited (Mario Agius, Martin Agius, Peter Paul Agius, Thomas Agius)
Known as ‘Ta’ Maksar’, the company was also part of the consortium which was awarded a massive bid to develop Malta’s coast road. Their estimated percentage has been added to their total.
5. Schembri Barbros: €20,618,049
Directors: Anthony Schembri, Ephraim Sam Schembri, and Joseph Schembri
Shareholders: Barbros Group Limited (Anthony Schembri, Carmelo Schembri, Saviour Schembri)
A massive earner under the current administration, Schembri Barbros forms part of the joint venture undertaking the controversial Central Link project, RM Construction.
A third of that amount was added to Schembri Barbros’ total.
Several contracts were also awarded to Cold Milling Services Ltd, totalling €3,003,497. However, the company does not appear on the Malta Business Registry. Several searches through the Transport Malta website uncovered that it is owned by Schembri Barbos.
Schembri Barbros has strong links with the current government. Saviour Schembri and Ephraim Schembri’s other company, Seaview and Sons, is a significant Labour Party donor.
In 2016, the company handed €20,000 to the party. A year later the Planning Authority approved the development of a 1,500 square metre fuel station on Outside Development Zone (ODZ) land in Marsascala.
Through relative Josephine Guntrip, they are proposing a 9,750 square metre shopping complex, also on ODZ land.
6. V&C Contractors: €19,663,439
Directors: Vincent Borg and Charles Borg
Shareholders: Vincent Borg and Charles Borg
Headed by brothers Vincent and Charles Borg, the company is the third member of the Central Link joint venture, now known as Bitmac Limited. A third of that amount has also been added to V&C’s total.
The company has formed part of other key government projects, both past and present, playing a role in the development of SmartCity.
7. Polidano Brothers: €19,300,204
Directors: Carmel Polidano and Paul Polidano
Shareholders: Polidano Group Limited, Carmel Polidano, and Paul Polidano
Despite being a leader in the construction industry, the company, namely its owner Carmel Polidano (Ic-Caqnu) has courted controversy, with enforcement orders at the Montekristo Estate over illegally-built structures and a zoo going by unenforced.
Polidano was also involved in the coast road project.
8. Schembri Infrastructure: €18,152,266
Directors: Edward Schembri and Frank Schembri
Shareholders: Schembri and Sons Limited (F Schembri Holdings, Edward Schembri, and Frank Schembri)
Another player in the Tarxien-Santa Lucija project, Schembri Infrastructures has a long history in the construction field. Through RM Construction it also has interests in the Coast Road project. Both have been added to their total.
9. Central Asphalt: €14,595,747
Directors: Carmelo Bartolo, Anthony Cauchi, Joseph Cauchi, Emmanuel Vella, Joseph Vella
Shareholders: Carmel Vella Limited (Carmelo Bartolo, Anthony Cauchi, Joseph Cauchi, Emmanuel Vella, Joseph Vella)
Central Asphalt former part of the Coast Road project and an estimated fee of €12,250,000 has been added to their total.
10. Road Servicing: € 3,530,945
Directors: James Azzopardi, Joseph Borg, Joseph Fenech, and Emanuel Vella
Shareholders: Offcentre Building Services & Co.(Joseph Borg and Emanuel Vella), Blokrete Limited (Joseph Fenech and Fenech Holdings), and P&J Azzopardi Brothers (James Azzopardi and Paul Azzopardi).
11. Northwind Investments: €2,862,190
Directors: Sandra Axiak
Shareholders: Carmelo Penza
12. SM Contractors: €2,787,183
Directors: Silvester Mifsud
Shareholders: Josette Mifsud and Silvester Mifsud
13. Denfar Excavations Ltd: €2,458,219
Directors: Dennis Farrugia, Shawn Farrugia, Wayne Farrugia
Shareholders: Denfar Holdings (Dennis Farrugia)
14. Rockcut Ltd: € 2,444,326
Directors: Raphael Buttigieg and Emmanuel Zammit
Shareholders: EC Construction Limited (MADA Developers Limited [Emmanuel Zammit, Francesco Zammit, Marie Antoinette Zammit], Raphael Buttigieg and Emmanuel Zammit).
15. Dimbros Limited: € 2,231,423
Directors: Joseph Dimech
Shareholders: Josephine Dimech, Ludwig Dimech, and Melchiore Dimech
Ludwig Dimech is also the main shareholder in LK Limited, who was awarded €1,040,950 in road’s contracts. The amount has been added to Dimbros’ total.
16. Galletta:€ 1,549,425.17
Directors: Adrian Muscat
Shareholders: Adrian Muscat
17. BAVA HOLDINGS: €1,003,104.18
Directors: Brigida Agius, Adolphus Camilleri, Alviero Camilleri, and Valeiro Camilleri
Shareholders: Brigida Agius, Adolphus Camilleri, Alviero Camilleri, and Valeiro Camilleri