The Malta Shooting Sport Federation is still in the dark regarding whether it will be tasked with running the new shooting range at Ta’ Kandja, amid fears that the government is eyeing a private company to manage the facility.

Informed sources expressed concern that while the Malta Shooting Sport Federation (MSSF) was responsible for running the Siġġiewi range during the International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup held earlier this month, the government was now looking into the possibility of having a private company come in and handle operations. This despite the fact that the federation was more than ready, and willing, to take up the task, they said.

Asked about the issue in Parliament, Education Minister Evarist Bartolo would not say if the MSSF would be tasked with running the range, noting instead that now that the World Cup was over, the government would hold talks with the parties involved, in order to make “the best possible use of the shooting range”.

The government will hold talks with the parties involved, to make the best use of it

Mr Bartolo said that this would be done by also considering “other models” that were already used in other sports, without giving any additional information on what the alternatives were.

“The government’s priority is to ensure that the project serves as a way to raise standards in the sport and its training in our country, in a way that is sustainable and with opportunities to achieve the best results yet,” Mr Bartolo said in his reply to a question by Opposition MP Ryan Callus.

Mr Bartolo also pointed out that shooting ranges in Malta fell under the remit of the government’s sports agency SportMalta in conjunction with the police and the Academy for Disciplined Forces.

MSSF president Saviour Portelli said the agreement was that after the World Cup, which the federation was responsible for, there would be a meeting with the government to discuss the way forward.

Mr Portelli said the meeting had yet to be set up, admitting that at this stage the federation was still in the dark as to who would run the Ta’ Kandja facility.

The MSSF president went on to say that the World Cup had proved to be a success, adding that the federation was equipped with both the experience and international contacts to adequately run the facility.

Last year, the shooting range made headlines after it emerged that a change in the law a few weeks after the last general election had provided the government permission for the massive range, an electoral pledge, without a full application.

Meanwhile, this newspaper reported earlier this year that a company whose shareholders are considered “very close to the Labour Party” was among those given direct orders for the €6 million project.