Roads agency Infrastructure Malta awarded more than €22 million in direct orders during the first half of the year, with the majority exceeding €10,000 in value.

Procurement rules stipulate that direct orders should not exceed €10,000 unless in exceptional circumstances and as a last resort.

Publicly available figures on the agency’s spend between January and June of this year show that among the 125 direct contracts issued by Infrastructure Malta, only 15 were below €10,000 in value. Two direct orders even reached and exceeded a whopping €2 million, both awarded to the same contractor.

Link-2018 JV, a consortium between V&C Contractors, Schembri Barbros and Schembri Holdings was given a direct contract valued €2,691,989.30  for the construction of the Mrieħel underpass and another contract worth €2 million for civil and finishing works on the same project.

In the same period last year, Infrastructure Malta spent some €10.4 million on direct orders, issuing over €27 million in direct orders for the whole year.

Two direct orders even reached and exceeded a whopping €2 million, both awarded to the same contractor

A number of leading construction companies made a tidy sum from the agency’s direct orders. Bonnici Brothers made some €2.6 million from Infrastructure Malta direct orders in the first half of the year and the Joseph Portelli-backed Excel Sis received some €1.8 million. Landscaping consortium ELC also pocketed some €1.5 million from Infrastructure Malta in direct orders.

This is not the first time the often-criticised agency has come under fire for awarding high-value contracts through direct orders, particularly for work on projects that have been publicly announced well in advance.

Following Minister Ian Borg’s shift from infrastructure to foreign affairs, former Infrastructure Malta CEO Frederick Azzopardi resigned from the post in April after four years. Earlier this month, he was charged in court for violating environmental protection laws during his tenure at the head of the agency, in a case that dates back to 2019.

In May, the government announced that engineer Trustin Farrugia Cann would be replacing Azzopardi as head of the agency but he resigned after only a month, citing conflict with his other career as an international football referee as his reason for departure.

In June, Times of Malta reported that Water Services Corporation CEO Ivan Falzon was set to take over the role this month.

Despite ministries being encouraged to cut down on costs, Infrastructure Minister Aaron Farrugia assured in June that the government was still on track to deliver on its 2017 electoral promise to fix up all of Malta’s roads by 2024.

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