Break­wa­ter to pro­tect St Ju­lian’s Bay not a pri­or­ity for gov­ern­ment

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Helena Grech

The gov­ern­ment is pre­pared to sup­port wa­ter polo clubs that were dam­aged by last week­end’s storm, but at present is not con­sid­er­ing the idea of build­ing a break­wa­ter to pro­tect St Ju­lian’s Bay, a spokesman said. With plans for a break­wa­ter to be built at Marsaxlokk, St Ju­lian’s Bay is not a pri­or­ity for the gov­ern­ment in view of the fi­nan­cial bur­den it would en­tail.

Over the week­end, the San Gil­jan Aquatic Sports Club was com­pletely de­stroyed in a heavy north-east storm that hit the is­lands, while the Ex­iles Sports Club was also se­verely dam­aged. Both clubs are sit­u­ated on the bay, with the San Gil­jan club fac­ing the open sea di­rectly and al­ways hav­ing to deal with prob­lems when a storm hits from the north-east, while Ex­iles are lo­cated right at the tip of the bay.

An­other club, Sliema ASC, was also heav­ily dam­aged in the storm. The Malta In­de­pen­dent spoke with the pres­i­dents of all three clubs, who all said that the storm had caused heavy dam­age to their premises. While San Gil­jan was the worst af­fected, so much so that the dam­age is so far in­es­timable, Ex­iles and Sliema were also not spared by the rough seas.

Con­tacted by this news­room, a spokesman for Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for Sport Chris Agius said the gov­ern­ment has asked wa­ter polo clubs af­fected by last week­end’s north-east­ern storm to cal­cu­late the cost of dam­ages suf­fered, and will be sup­port­ing them to “con­tinue to func­tion as nor­mal.”

This news­room also asked whether the Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for Sport would be as­sist­ing the clubs in view of the fact that these clubs run on a vol­un­tary ba­sis, that they pro­mote phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity – of im­por­tance while Malta re­mains the fat­test of EU coun­tries, and lastly their ac­tiv­i­ties are in line with the gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to place to pro­mote sports among the public.

In re­sponse, a spokesper­son said: “The sit­u­a­tion for most clubs sit­u­ated in lo­ca­tions fac­ing open seas is ev­i­dently chal­leng­ing. The Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary has per­son­ally spo­ken to most of the wa­ter polo clubs af­fected this week­end and asked them to per­form an as­sess­ment of dam­ages suf­fered. The clubs are an­a­lyz­ing the costs and we will sup­port them to con­tinue func­tion­ing as nor­mal.”

Asked about the pos­si­bil­ity of a break­wa­ter be­ing in­stalled in or­der to shel­ter clubs such as San Gil­jan and Ex­iles, the spokesper­son said:

“As a gov­ern­ment, we have al­ready iden­ti­fied the project of a break­wa­ter at Marsamx­ett har­bour, which ob­vi­ously comes at an enor­mous cost, and so other sim­i­lar projects will have to be con­sid­ered at a later stage.”

Asked whether the Fi­nance Min­istry is con­sid­er­ing help­ing out through the Good Causes Fund, a spokesman for the min­istry said “each ap­pli­ca­tion is treated on its own merit based on the pub­lished cri­te­ria of the Good Causes Fund and that the min­istry can­not pro­nounce it­self be­fore any ap­pli­ca­tion is re­ceived, re­viewed and pro­cessed.”

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