As the country braces for another election, the government this morning announced that it would immediately begin building a bridge from Malta to Gozo while construction work gets underway on an undersea tunnel, which it also announced has now been increased in capacity to eight lanes - four in each direction.

The bridge will ensure that Gozitans and Maltese can travel without hindrance or delay while they await the completion of the tunnel.  Additionally, travel will also be greatly improved by the introduction of a high-speed train between all points in Malta and Gozo.  The government will immediately organise a public debate on the colour of the train, as this will assist the company that won the train contract just over three years ago.  

Plans to build a bridge were kept secret for the past two years in order to ensure the project would only be discussed by properly qualified people.  The government said that it was keen to ensure that no untrustworthy companies would be set up to tender for the project.

The winning company, PHM (il-Pontijiet Huma Mag─žna) with offices registered in San Dimitri Point Gozo was formed yesterday, prior to the public announcement of the contract.  It won the secret contract based on high-level qualifications which cannot be divulged because they are commercially sensitive.  However, a government spokesperson assured this newspaper that the company was the “best in the world”. 

In an aside, the spokesperson also added that the concrete to be used in both the bridge and tunnel would be manufactured in Malta, at a new batching plant currently being sourced from friends in Sicily.

The cost of the bridge will be borne by the EU, as a special gesture of thanks to Malta for its role in promoting European citizenship, in strengthening the rule of law and for its outstanding contribution to European aesthetics, especially in infrastructure and construction.

In an additional announcement, the Office of the Prime Minister revealed that half of the members of the cabinet will be seconded to Brussels to strengthen the Commission’s capacity to promote transparency and accountability.  Key members of the cabinet will focus directly on the issue of overseas banking and money laundering, given the country’s established expertise in the area.

Sources close to the Commission said that it was also considering requesting additional support from Malta in the area of criminal investigation and the streamlining of legal procedures with respect to serious crime.  The government remained tight-lipped on the possible request.

These surprise developments came hot on the heels of last night’s UNESCO award to the construction industry in Malta for its appreciation of the importance of heritage in cultural life and public life and for its care of Malta’s environment.  A spokesperson for the industry said that the award proved, yet again that the sector was “the best in the world”.

In an unrelated announcement, the Vatican confirmed that after a lengthy investigation it was declaring Malta as now officially ‘heaven on earth'.  The Vatican will shortly establish an outreach office in Malta to assist the tourist industry with reference to pilgrimages.  A leading bishop told this paper that Malta’s status as ‘heaven’ would greatly improve the country’s tourism product.

The government was adamant that these announcements (along with the further creation of 500,000 public sector jobs) had absolutely no connection to the upcoming election.

This newspaper requested a comment from the Opposition, but when our reporter visited their offices, the lights were out and nobody appeared to be in the building. A security guard said he had not seen anyone there for some time.

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