Place Gozo fast ferry under public ownership

Moviment Graffitti is angered at the sudden and unjust reduction of the Gozo Fast Ferry service, a necessary link for students and workers commuting between the islands. The provision of this fast ferry service via two private companies that need to turn a profit, instead of a public service run for the common good, was a grave mistake from the outset that made the current flop inevitable.

Just 15 months after being inaugurated, the Gozo Fast Ferry, which was intended as an efficient game changer for commuting between the two islands, is facing a sudden excision of its service. Until last week, 12-13 trips a day were being offered by the fast ferry between Malta and Gozo. Suddenly, without prior notice, the Gozo Fast Ferry service was slimmed down to just five trips a day, with a couple of morning trips and a couple of evening trips.

Ironically, while this essential service is being allowed to falter, the government is proposing an unviable and destructive airstrip in Gozo in the name of improved connectivity between the islands.

This is an insult to all Gozitan and Maltese residents. Many over the past months have become increasingly reliant on the fast ferry, hoping to avoid endless traffic between the two islands by going directly to Valletta. Some have ditched their cars, and the ability to board the fast ferry by bicycle made it an attractive service to many bicycle users. Its sudden excision is unacceptable and needs to be reversed immediately.

Moreover, the government’s offer to subsidise companies that will improve their service in no way constitutes a long-term solution for the provision of an effective and affordable fast ferry. It also makes little financial sense for government to use taxpayers’ money to subsidise the profits of private companies when it can offer the service itself directly.

As an essential public service, the provision of a fast link between Valletta and Gozo should have been under public ownership from the start. The government’s insistence on approaching the private sector and then heavily subsidising the service when it flopped shows that its priority is, as always, business over the common good. Privatisation of this service has already led to an increase in fares and the rollback of the use of the TalLinja card which had provided public transport streamlining, demonstrating how public services run by private companies actually make a service worse, not better.

As Moviment Graffitti, we demand immediate action from the government to step in and ensure that the prior timetable is restored within the framework of a service that prioritises the common good. Thus, the government should place the fast ferry under public ownership in order to ensure that the needs of the residents, not business owners, are put first.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and are not reflective of ‘A Bird’s Eye View’ as a whole.


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