Two unsuccessful bidders for the Malta-Gozo tunnel project have filed appeals after being ruled out of the project by a public contracts body.

Earlier this month, Times of Malta reported how Infrastructure Malta had shortlisted one bidder of four who submitted an offer to build a permanent link to the sister isle. 

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

The only bidder to make it past the first hurdle to secure a contract for the project is a consortium made up of five companies, tender documents show.

Bidders Malta Gozo Fixed Link Ltd and CGYI Malta Gozo Consortium have both filed appeals before the Public Contracts Review Board. 

Lawyers for the two consortia told Times of Malta on Tuesday that the appeals had been filed before the window closed on Monday. 

This, they added, is standard procedure.

Malta Gozo Fixed Link have argued that the contracting authority failed to adhere to the procedures previously announced. This had caused irregularities in the process.

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

However, the consortium is arguing that the documents provided in this assessment contained typos leading to problems in the process. 

Who is the shortlisted bidder for the tunnel project?

The consortium that was approved for the next stage is made up of:

Equitix – A UK-based investment firm specialising in infrastructure and energy projects in the UK and Europe. 

Itochu – A Japanese company involved in the import and export of textiles and other materials.

Yapi Merzeki – A Turkish construction company with experience in tunnel construction. 

Makyol – Another Turkish construction company with involvement in various infrastructure projects. 

Egis – A construction and engineering company that is a subsidiary of Caisse des Dépôts, a French public sector financial institution. 

Who were the other bidders? 

Malta-Gozo Fixed Link Limited – A company with no prior experience in major infrastructure projects. The son of the late Hugo Chetcuti, Luke Chetcuti, is the main face behind the company. 

CGYI Malta-Gozo consortium – Another consortium whose members include China Communications Constructions Co., which carried out a study for the Maltese government in 2013 looking into the feasibility of a Malta-Gozo bridge. 

Salini Impregilo SpA – An Italian company that has been involved in several large infrastructure projects, including roads, metro systems and dams.

Mixed views on tunnel

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

Respondents from Gozo tended to be more against the project, with a total of 41.5 per cent expressing disagreement and 37.7 per cent saying they are in favour.

The project to build a tunnel was initiated by the Nationalist government in 2012 when a series of studies were launched.

Since the beginning of the tendering process in 2018, Gozo Channel has added another ferry to its fleet and two companies have started running a fast-ferry service from Valletta to Gozo.

The plans are for a tunnel composed of one traffic lane heading in either direction, together with an additional third safety lane.

Serious concerns have been raised about the environmental impact of the project and about how it might accelerate the construction activity that is already changing the face of Gozo.

Environmental groups have flagged how arable and natural land will be eaten up for the tunnel’s two entrances and how the authorities will have to somehow cater for the unprecedented volume of one million cubic metres of waste generated from the tunnelling.

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