Infrastructure Malta CEO Fredrick Azzopardi has resigned as head of the roads agency after four years, he has confirmed to Times of Malta.
Azzopardi, a key driving force behind minister Ian Borg, is understood to be moving to the private sector.
The move coincides with Borg being shifted from Infrastructure Minister to the Foreign Affairs Ministry after last month’s election.
On Monday, Azzopardi confirmed he would be moving on from his role at the agency but denied any link between the change in Borg’s portfolio and his decision to leave.
He said he had first notified the government about his intention to leave in September.
“I was asked to stay on until the general election, to ensure continuity on projects that were nearing completion, such as the Central Link project, and to conclude the planning of others that the agency is starting this year, including major capital investments in the Grand Harbour,” he said.
“In line with this plan, I will be ending my work at Infrastructure Malta next month.”
Azzopardi defends his track record
Azzopardi, who was instrumental in setting up the roads agency in 2018, has frequently been accused of running roughshod over environmental concerns raised by NGOs and residents.
However, he defended his record at the agency, saying that after years of neglect, the roads are now getting the level of investment required to reach the high quality and safety levels the country deserves.
“We have shown that it is possible to develop large-scale projects on time, and within budget,” Azzopardi said.
“Until a few years ago, many people thought it was impossible for Malta to complete upgrades such as the Marsa junction or the Santa Luċija underpass.”
He pointed to the Grand Harbour clean air project, a “major environmental project” that he has been personally pushing since day one of the agency being set up.
“The main works are almost done and by the beginning of next year, Malta will have shore-to-ship electricity for cruise liners, eventually also for other vessels, ending a major source of air pollution in the densely-populated Grand Harbour region,” he noted.
Prior to his Infrastructure Malta role, Azzopardi headed state-energy provider Enemalta during the controversial Electrogas and Montenegro projects, which are at the centre of corruption claims.
Azzopardi argued that besides the “controversies”, no one can deny what he described as landmark developments such as the energy tariff reductions and the return to “eight figure profits” by Enemalta.
“Environmentally, we managed to end the use of heavy fuel oil in Malta and shift all electricity generation to natural gas, the interconnector and renewables,” he said.
“Let us not forget that until 2012, Malta was still building new HFO power stations in Delimara, wasting millions in a polluting fuel that we needed to get rid of.
“Few companies or countries can achieve these major transformations in such a short time. We also implemented a €100 million plus investment in the distribution network, without incurring a single cent in new debts,” Azzopardi added.
Where is Azzopardi going?
He declined to give details about his new “private sector” role, saying he decided to leave government service after 20 years despite receiving “several offers” to work for other government entities.
Azzopardi ruled out the possibility of carrying out consultancy work for Infrastructure Malta in the coming years, but left the door open to working for other entities “through minor advisory roles”.
He said he would only do so if his new private sector commitments allow for it, both in terms of time and in terms of potential conflicts of interest.
“When word got around that I was leaving Infrastructure Malta, I did receive job offers from local and international companies engaged in the construction industry. I felt it would not be ethical for me to consider these options,” he said.
“I accepted to join the management team of a group of companies that has not had any dealings with the government entities I worked for.
“This group is focused on other sectors not linked to road infrastructure or other operations Infrastructure Malta is involved in,” Azzopardi said.