A small health centre being built near the bus terminus in Victoria, Gozo is now at least four years late and its prospective opening is still nowhere in sight, The Shift is informed.
In June 2018, Health Minister Chris Fearne paid an official and much-hyped visit to Gozo, where he announced that a new health centre in Victoria was almost complete and that it would be opening its doors by June 2019.
This, however, has not yet happened over four years since the announcement. Opposition MP Alex Borg earlier this month asked the Deputy Prime Minister for news on the health centre, Fearne said the much-awaited ‘state-of-the-art’ health centre would be opened by June 2023 – four years past the original target.
Gozitans who spoke to The Shift described the project as “a comedy of errors and a waste of public funds”.
“The so-called health centre is not some mini-hospital, but merely a small space next to the city’s bus terminus with not more than a few rooms,” sources said.
“Still work has moved at a snail’s pace even though some €1.5 million have already been spent on it.”
The Shift is informed that the project, the result of a political tug-of-war between former Gozo Minister Anton Refalo and his successor Justyne Caruana, who is currently out of politics after a political scandal, is being managed by the Foundation for Medical Services.
The FMS is headed by Fearne’s chief canvasser, Carmen Ciantar, who has been awarded a stratospheric €163,000 annual financial package.
According former Gozo Minister Anton Refalo’s plans, the small building in Victoria was originally to have become an art centre. But when Refalo’s portfolio was changed in a Cabinet reshuffle, Caruana scrapped Refalo’s plans and decided to instead build a new health centre at the site.
A tender to have the essential facility up and running by 2019 had been awarded to Idea Plan Ltd, an unknown company with no experience and whose shareholders were based in the UK, and the value of the work required stood at €630,000.
However, a few months later and following Fearne’s highly-publicised visit to Gozo, work drew to a complete halt and the company abandoned the project.
The Gozo Ministry then issued a direct order to a new company, Camray Company Ltd, to continue the project, now at a cost of almost €1 million even though most of the work had supposedly already been completed. The new indicative completion date is June 2023, four years behind schedule.
This is not the only project being managed by the FMS that has gone haywire. A much larger project, the construction of a new €40 million regional health hub in Fearne’s constituency of Paola, is also well behind schedule.