The appeals filed by the two unsuccessful bidders for the Malta-Gozo tunnel could derail the entire project by up to six months.

Legal experts on Wednesday confirmed the process to award the project is blocked pending the decision of the Public Contracts Review Board.

The legal experts said hearings of the board could take about two months but any of the parties displeased with its decision could then take the matter to court, which is bound by law to decide within four months.

Earlier this month, Infrastructure Malta shortlisted one bidder of the four who had submitted an offer to build a permanent link to Gozo.

That bidder is a consortium made up of five companies – the UK’s Equitix, Japanese company Itochu, Turkish companies Yapi Merkezi and Makyol, and French firm Egis.

Rival bidders Salini Impregilo SpA, Malta-Gozo Fixed Link Limited and CGYI Malta-Gozo consortium were eliminated by Infrastructure Malta’s tendering committee.

Rivals bidders file appeal before review board, each paying a fee of €50,000 to do so

The latter two have filed an appeal before the review board, each paying a fee of €50,000 to do so.

Malta-Gozo Fixed Link Limited has no prior experience in major infrastructure projects but is using sub-contractors who have ample experience in the matter. 

It is arguing that the contracting authority failed to adhere to the procedures previously announced, leading to irregularities in the process.

CGYI Malta Gozo were disqualified from the tender process because they did not meet the requirements of a technical and professional assessment.

They are arguing that the documents provided in this assessment contained typos leading to problems in the process.

One of the consortium members is China Communications Constructions Co., which carried out a study for the Maltese government in 2013 looking into the feasibility of a tunnel.

According to a recent survey commissioned by Times of Malta, support for the project is split down the middle, with 41.6% of the Maltese population in favour and 38.8% against.

The 14-kilometre horseshoe-shaped tunnel is planned to run underground and under the seabed between l-Imbordin, in St Paul’s Bay, and a road near Kenuna Tower, in Nadur.

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