Hundreds of Marsaskala residents and activists descended on the village this evening to protest plans by Transport Malta to build a yacht marina in the locality’s bay.
The plans have been opposed by residents and civil society who have argued that the country could not keep having public land given away to the rich and powerful.
Addressing the protest, Wirt iż-Żejtun president Ruben Abela stressed the bay’s value to the community’s collective memory.
“Collective memory is something we often don’t understand, but it is there and it unites communities,” Abela said. “This is why you are all here. Sure there are other concerns, but the collective memory is just as important.”
He appealed to those present to leave politics out of the issue. “This is a just cause. Leave politics out of it.”
Abela insisted that Marsaskala did not need a yacht marina. “It doesn’t need to be Tigne Point or Portomaso. Marsaskala is Marsaskala and it has its own character which shouldn’t change.”
Abela told those present that Wirt iż-Żejtun would stand with Marsaskala residents and do what it could to oppose the project.
Above all, he said the marina would take away a bay that the community uses to relax. “Nobody will relax anymore, except the people sitting on their boats.”
Other residents decried the fact that the Marsaskala community always seemed to be sacrificed for the interests of the rich and powerful.
They called for policies that impacted Marsaskala to be centred around the community’s wellbeing, adding that this would in itself result in more tourists visiting.
Many argued that the marina would result in increased traffic congestion and a lack of parking spaces for locals.
Concerns were also raised about the impact the marina would have on the surrounding environment. This included both marine life that inhabits the bay, as well as the Natura 2000 il-Magħluq which is home to the Maltese Killifish (Bużaqq in Maltese).
Earlier this month, Transport Malta published a pre-qualification document calling for proposals for the marina’s construction.
Several NGOs, including Moviment Graffitti, as well as the locality’s local council have called for the plans to be scrapped.
Responding to journalists’ questions on Wednesday, Transport Minister Ian Borg said that while the government was listening to what people had to say, the marina was also needed because more people were buying pleasure boats.
Moviment Graffiti has said that the construction of the marina will “suffocate Marsaskala through land reclamation, changes in road networks, and further development of buildings, such as offices, toilets, showers, and parking amenities.”
Several residents addressed the protest and gave their views on the proposal. Many recounted memories they had of the bay which they said would be destroyed should plans for the marina go ahead.
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