Government and db Group refuse to answer questions on infrastructure crucial to development
The government and the db Group have refused to answer questions over who exactly would pay for the construction of a tunnel and other surrounding infrastructure crucial to the development of the company’s project at the former ITS site.
Despite the Planning Authority approving the project, its case officer had only recommended its approval once “a letter of commitment by either the Government or the applicant with regard to the implementation of the necessary transport infrastructure” had been provided.
The newsroom had previously been informed that the contract signed between the parties stipulated that it would, in fact, be the government, in effect the taxpayer, who would bear the expense.
In fact, the case officer’s report seems to indicate that it will be the government who will be required to pay the bill. The Planning Directorate Advisory Team noted that: “Transport Malta needs to approve the proposed road infrastructure and commit the Transport Authority for its construction in accordance with the projected time-frames in the TIS or suggest alternative solutions.”
However, in the past, sources from both the government and db Group had provided the newsroom with conflicting accounts, with both insisting that they themselves would not foot the bill for the project, doing little to quash the concerns that the project could be completed without the construction of the tunnel.
Last June, The Malta Independent on Sunday was informed that the “government was still in discussions to see which financial formula should be applied for the development”.
The government had been discussing how to finance the construction of the tunnel with the relevant stakeholders, and whether it should be db Group itself, all the developers (including db) who are currently reaping the benefits of the Paceville and St Julian’s area, or a joint effort between the developers and the government. However, nothing seems to have materialised.
Since then, the project has been approved by the PA board with 10 votes in favour to four against, despite the thousands of objections filed against the project, and with the PA forking out €8,750 to fly in board member Jacqueline Gili by private jet for the vote. The Ombudsman has since opened an investigation into the affair.
TIA puts forward road network based on TM and developer’s plans
The tunnel was found to be the best solution for the traffic issues in the Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) for the project, which covered a radius of 3km, rather than the widening of roads (due to the negative effects it would have on Nature 2000 sites) or other alternatives.
The tunnel would start near the development and mostly pass under an existing road (Mediterranean Street) and join a planned road, which will be near the Chinese Embassy, connecting Pembroke and the Coast Road.
It is believed that a roundabout and a flyover will be constructed over the infamous junction with Suffolk Street, connecting to the TEN-T comprehensive network along Triq San Andrija (between Paceville and l-Ibrag traffic signal junctions).
In the report, TM said that it “is fully cognizant of the fact that this section of TEN-T road network will clearly become a major traffic bottleneck by 2025 unless major road improvements are carried out in the area”.
In fact, the TIA has put forward a road network based on both TM and the developer’s plans, possibly hinting at a joint venture.