A catamaran service to Gozo, ferry trips from Grand Harbour and ultimately a tunnel linking Malta with the sister island, are the main proposals unveiled today by a new pressure group called Front favur il-mina.
Comprising a number of university students, the front will be lobby in favour of better accessibility to Gozo, with the ultimate aim being of a permanent link.
Members of the front together with Gozitan MPs Chris Said (PN) and Franco Mercieca (PL) this afternoon gave a news conference in Sa Maison, Pietà right next to the jetty used by the Gozo Channel cargo ships.
The front noted that all studies so far indicated that the tunnel, the cost of which was estimated to be of about €300 million, was feasible and would come at a much lower price than a bridge (€800 million).
Front coordinator Beppe Galea said that the tunnel would address social and economic challenges as it would give Gozitans the same work and study opportunities enjoyed by the Maltese.
Asked whether the project should be subject to a referendum he said both parties had included the permanent link proposal in their respective manifestos so voters had already given their consent.
Critics had warned that the tunnel could negatively impact Gozo’ relatively unspoilt environment as it would make it more prone for development. However, Dr Said this issue had nothing to do with the tunnel, but with the bad planning decisions of the past, citing the over-development at Xlendi as a prime example.
On his part, Labour MP Franco Mercieca said the project would not result in the closing down of Gozo Channel as the company would still have an important role to fulfill, albeit not on as large a scale as at present. He added that the project was about giving equal opportunities to Gozitans.
The front will be meeting the Gozo Minister in the coming days.