A new “state-of-the-art” shooting range in Ta’ Kandja has not been used for months amid operational problems and discord on how the facility is to be managed.

Despite government promises and millions of euros paid for jobs allocated by direct order on the pretext that the facility had to be completed in time for the International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup event last June, the project was far from finished and further investment was required to cater for other international shooting disciplines such as rifle and dynamic ranges, sources close to the Education Ministry said.

“So far, the facility has been used for a few days last year for just one event, the World Cup, and has been inoperative ever since,” the sources added.

Notwithstanding the huge amount of money spent, the government had still not found a way to make good use of the ranges, they continued.

Shooters who spoke to this newspaper termed the prevailing situation as “pitiful”, describing it as a monument to the waste of taxpayer money.

Range a monument to the waste of taxpayer money

“Instead of making the best use of this new range, we have been told to use other facilities because Ta’ Kandja is closed,” one of them remarked.

The shooting range, which lies on the grounds of the Police Academy in the limits of Siġġiewi, was an electoral pledge made by Labour on the eve of the 2017 general election.

Shooters said that, according to the pledge made by then sports parliamentary secretary Chris Agius, once built, the management of the shooting range, equipped with all facilities, would be handed over to the Malta Shooting Sport Federation.

The shooting range was, however, partly completed – only catering for trap and skeet – and the Parliamentary Secretary for Sport, Clifton Grima, was insisting it should be managed by government agency Sport Malta, they noted.

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo told Nationalist MP Robert Cutajar in reply to a question in Parliament that, following discussions with the federation, the facility could again be used as from next month.

Federation president Peter Montebello confirmed when contacted that a preliminary agreement had been reached with the government but “nothing has been signed yet”.

The Police Academy, this newspaper was told, was insisting on the correct health and safety measures, including insurance cover, being in place before shooting starts again.

In addition, complaints have been made about some of the facilities either having been badly installed or developing problems soon after they started being used.

During last year’s international competition, the Police Academy had to be evacuated for some time as pellets fell on to its precincts.

The construction of the facility had been described by industry sources as a “record-breaker” in terms of direct orders, with some contractors being granted contracts worth millions of euros.

Among the largest recipients were road builders Bonnici Brothers, awarded over €5 million in direct works.

Originally estimated to cost €7 million, the government has already spent €14 million on the first phase of the facility.

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