Updated 4.40pm - Added Palumbo statement
A massive oil rig had been parked in the Grand Harbour for more than a year with no sign of moving, Valletta 2018 Foundation chairman Jason Micallef said today.
Addressing a press conference with the hulking structure parked at the Palumbo shipyard serving as his backdrop, Mr Micallef said he had met with several authorities but still had no idea when the rig would be moved.
"This is ruining the aesthetic of the Grand Harbour and we are in the dark as to how long this is going to be allowed to go on," he said.
Mr Micallef said he would personally be writing to the head of the Lands Authority tomorrow, asking for the timeframes the Palumbo firm was meant to abide by.
"The operator is renting this shipyard and so there is a contract. And if there is a contract there must be conditions with which the operator must comply," he said.
Mr Micallef said he appreciated that such economic activity could not be put on hold for Valletta's stint as European Capital of Culture, but said things could still be done prudently.
Mayors from several localities supported the call for the Grand Harbour's vistas to be respected, Mr Micallef said.
A Palumbo Malta Shipyards spokesperson confirmed that it had won a two-year contract to revamp the jackup oil rig in question, and said that the contract would expire next year.
"The oil rig’s presence in the harbour is a commitment we have undertaken, which also has positive ripple effects for its ship agents and ship suppliers,” the spokeswoman added.
They argued that the oil rig's presence left positive ripples across the national economy, and pointed to the Grand Harbour's long history of being linked to shipbuilding.
"Activity is expected to increase further when this government proceeds with its vision for a maritime hub in the area formerly used by the Marsa shipbuilding," they said, as they invited Mr Micallef to visit the Palumbo shipyard to better understand the company's work.
The company concluded: “We are big supporters of V-18 and we are collaborating with them on an exciting project for this important event. We also constantly back our community’s cultural activities."
Capital of cranes
Mr Micallef said he was also working to ensure the number of cranes set up in Valletta during 2018 were kept to a minimum.
"Of course we cannot ensure no development will go on, but as much as possible we want to see far less cranes," he said.
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