The Gozo Tunnel Project received bipartisan support in Parliament as members of Labour Party and Nationalist Party came together to approve the motion put forward by Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg and Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana.
The motion was put forward by the duo last week seeking support for the ambitious infrastructural project. All the MPs apart from PD leader Godfrey Farrugia, PD MP Marlene Farrugia, and those representing the Democratic Party supported the motion.
“Whatever the strength of the argument for the economy, the human element always gets priority. The Gozo tunnel will improve the lives of hundreds of Gozitan families,” PN spokesperson for Gozo Chris Said was quoted as saying by Malta Today.
Minister Justyne Caruana said that this would mean an influx of more people coming in Gozo and a possible increase in investment in IT, health, research and innovation, etc. “Gozitans depend exclusively on the accessibility of Gozo through Malta,” she said.
Chris Said, however, put forward six amendments to the motion out of which Parliament accepted three. All the amendments dealt with changes in the wording of the motion. Citing a 2011 study by Mott MacDonald, he said that both the parties had a political commitment to complete the project.
Criticizing the government, PN MP Frederick Azzopardi said: “In April of 2016, Joseph Muscat assured us that the environmental aspect would be given due attention with respect to the tunnel. But the government closed any form of discussion, telling 13 NGOs that the Gozo tunnel will take place, even though no studies had been published.”
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the project was epochal and largest in the history of Malta. “This is not just an instance of an infrastructural project but an instance of political credibility since the project was agreed upon in each party’s electoral manifesto,” he added.
Meanwhile, Gozo Business Chamber lauded the unanimous decision taken by Parliament to implement the project. In a statement, it appealed all the parties to “translate the support given to the motion into a movement in favour of the island”.
“Only in this way can Gozo benefit as it should from the nation’s economic well-being while participating positively in the attainment of its goals,” the Chamber stated.
Opposition Leader Adrian Delia, while speaking during the debate in Parliament, said that it was “fundamental that all publications related to the project are made available to whoever is in charge of safeguarding the interest of the people”.