Dredging works at Mġarr harbour, which ‘pushed’ the Gozo Ministry to offer a free crane service not to inconvenience pleasure boat owners, were suspended as the equipment was required to replenish two bays in Malta, the Times of Malta is informed.

A few days before the European elections last month, the Gozo Ministry offered a free crane service to owners of private boats wanting to launch their craft for the summer season.

That raised a few eyebrows, amid accusations it was “another vote-catching exercise by the Gozo Ministry”. However, Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana immediately defended the decision, saying it was necessitated by the ongoing dredging works at the main harbour that were scheduled to take some time.

Dredging works stopped soon after the May 25 elections and machinery transferred to Malta

“The Minister for Gozo offered this service since the ongoing dredging works at the harbour precluded the use of the main slipway in Mġarr,” a spokesman had told this newspaper.

Now it seems the works would take even longer, thus causing more inconvenience to private boat owners, because the dredging works stopped soon after the May 25 elections and machinery was transferred to Malta to be used on two other projects in Birżebbuġa and Marsaxlokk.

“If there were doubts that the Gozo Ministry’s free crane service was an election ploy, they have now been removed,” maritime industry sources said.

“If the Gozo Ministry truly wanted to ensure boat owners were not inconvenienced it should have pressed for the works to be speeded up rather than be temporarily suspended,” the same sources remarked.

The Times of Malta has received photographs of the works showing the same dredger, owned by Bezzina Shipyards, that was used in Mġarr engaged in other works at Marsaxlokk a few days after the election.

Works in Mġarr are expected to continue once the job at Għar l-Aħmar Bay, in Marsaxlokk, is completed.

The replenished beach at St George’s Bay, Birżebbuġa, was officially opened yesterday.

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