Studies related to a Malta-Gozo tunnel proposal must be made public before the government steamrolls ahead with the project, the Nationalist Party said on Friday.
In a statement, the party said that reports into the proposed tunnel’s environmental, social and economic impacts should all be published without delay.
The PN statement comes just a few days after the Association of Gozitan Workers publicly questioned the need for a tunnel linking the two islands, saying that adding a fourth Gozo Channel ferry had eased delays and made crossing islands a much more pleasant job.
Authorities have made it clear that they want to move ahead with tunnel plans and have said that work is currently under way to prepare a call for tender related to parts of the project.
Just a few months ago, parliament unanimously voted in favour of a commitment to develop a “permanent link” between Malta and Gozo.
Details have however been hard to come by.
Last year, Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg said a tunnel could run from Manikata in Malta to Nadur in Gozo and cater for two lanes of traffic and an additional safety lane.
He has said little else about the project, however, telling parliament in July that “various” funding models were being considered and that preparatory work was moving ahead quickly.
There is also little indication of what studies are being undertaken as part of it. In April, 12 NGOs filed a judicial letter called on minister Ian Borg to hold a Strategic Impact Assessment for the project. The minister did not reply.
The PN’s calls for studies to be published before a call for tenders is issued echoes an identical demand made by former Alternattiva Demokratika chairman Arnold Cassola earlier this year.
In March, Prof. Cassola had said that “if tenders are issued without all these studies having been made public beforehand, the responsibility would not only be political but also personal”.
Dr Borg wasted little time in replying to the PN statement.
"All studies concluded so far were published months ago, immediately after Parliament unanimously voted for this project," the minister wrote on Twitter, attaching a link to a Transport Malta web page containing links to published studies.
"Are you still in favour?" he asked PN leader Adrian Delia.