Inefficiencies in the service provided by Gozo Channel
Gozitan workers and those who often cross the channel have voiced concern regarding the precarious position the service provided by the Gozo Channel is in.
In the last few days, delays have been reported on more than one occasion, among them the delay caused by a bomb threat on one of the vessels. The anger and frustration of the passengers and drivers stranded for a long time at the quay in Ċirkewwa and at the quay at Imġarr in Gozo were palpable.
The queues, both at Ċirkewwa and at Imġarr, were incredibly long, with hundreds of cards waiting for the moment they could embark on the crossing between the two islands.
Without a doubt, Gozo depends on Malta for everything, so if the efficiency of the transport service between the two islands falls drastically, the island of Gozo will be isolated.
And who is bearing the brunt of all these delays? The many Gozitan workers and students who need to make the crossing every day to get to work or to their place of study! The Gozitan patients who have medical appointments at Mater Dei Hospital!
These people are suffering not only because they have to wake up early to make the trip to Malta but also because they are getting back to Gozo very late.
Moreover, because the cargo service from Sa Maison is no longer in operation, Gozitans now have to pay the extra expenses related to transporting goods to Gozo out of their own pocket. On arriving at Ċirkewwa after a long drive, these trucks have to wait for the arrival of a vessel that is not furnished with hoistable decks so that they can get on. Once a boat which can load the trucks arrives the trucks are given preference, causing ripples of anger among car drivers who have been waiting in the queue and who end up missing the boat! It is a no win situation!
The decision to stop the service that used to leave from Sa Maison has also negatively affected the environment on the roads through which these trucks now have to pass … not to mention that they are the cause of even more traffic congestion.
These delays are also impacting business and tourism in Gozo. The Gozo Business Chamber has issued a statement saying that these delays are harming business in Gozo. It also said that the time for consultation is over and drastic action needs to be taken.
Even the Association of Gozitan Workers in Malta has criticised the excessive delays and has noted that the vessels are getting worn out and are thus becoming a source of tension for those who depend on the Gozo Channel for a living, be they employees, self-employed or in business.
Although the commercial activity in Gozo has increased, the current structures and operations are not coping with the increasing demand, so much so that they are harming the sustainability of progress.