I understand that, as a Gozo MP, Chris Said is exposed to complaints from business people about their logistical disadvantage. However, I consider that it borders on the irresponsible to present the tunnel project as purely a financial exercise, with a cost outlay and a return on this investment, as if this was a purely business initiative.

I am intrigued at how the figure of €150 million, which was quoted as the total expenditure on the project, was arrived at. Any estimate for a tunnelling project of certain import, particularly below the sea-bed, has to be based on extremely technical studies, not least geotechnical, but also including structural and seismic investigations, to assess the risks and feasibility of the project. I am afraid that this figure was floated since it does not sound like something the country could not afford. Most undersea tunnelling projects have resulted in their budgets going through the roof; the Channel Tunnel comes to mind. And clearly once the project has started you are not going to stop halfway but you just have to pump in more and more money. So, before giving any false hopes that this is a financially feasible project, all studies and cost estimates have to be carried out.

I am vociferously against any form of physical connection between the two islands, be it tunnel, causeway or suspended bridge. Gozo holds a special niche in the package that is Malta, and this speciality comes mostly from its characteristics, including its people, but also because it is an island and can only be reached by sea or by air. The moment that a physical link is established, Gozo will lose its special characteristics and become just an appendage of Malta.

So I strongly appeal to all parties to exercise prudence before committing themselves one way or the other, as the implications are wide but generally negative.

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