Ramla l-Hamra: The untold story - http://www.maltastar.com
When Labour saved Ramla l-Hamra from development
22 June 2007
An Italian company had presented a proposal to the government in 1982 to develop Ramla l-Hamra but contrary to the scandalous and much criticised decision by Mepa this June to issue development permits, the Labour government then took a sane decision and turned down the proposal to save the pristine valley.
maltastar.com managed to exclusively see copies of architect’s designs and artistic impressions of a development proposed for Ramla l-Hamra and presented to government in 1982 by a north Italian company with a veritable track record.
Despite the economic viability of the project that the Italian investors would have brought to Gozo, the grandiose tourism village project at Ramla l-Hamra fell through. The Labour Party then in government under the leadership of Prime Minister Dom Mintoff, had out rightly refused the proposed development, to save the pristine environment of the area despite the prospects that the project would have brought.
Peter Borg, then promoter to the Italian company and a close friend to former prime minister Dom Mintoff told maltastar.com that all was set for the project to go ahead by end 1982 after meetings with relevant ministries.
“We had drawings ready, projections, strict datelines and we were ready to start the project when given the green light. But Mintoff would not bend one inch to let the investors take over Ramla,” said Mr Borg who willingly showed us aerial views and drawings of the project, which were kept under wraps for all these years. He also recalls how Mintoff had not change his position despite their friendship since for him “Malta came first and foremost”, even above friendship.
The former Prime Minister would not let go the Italian investors and asked them to look elsewhere in Gozo where the government could help them obtain an alternative site – as long as long as the project would be viable both economically and environmentally .
The early eighties was a time when the tourism industry was expanding at a rapid and steady pace and tourism facilities where very much in demand to sustain the flow of tourists visiting Malta. Tourist expenditure at the time topped Lm112 million, which was a substantial part of Malta’s Gross Domestic Product.
Mr Borg said he was not discouraged by the government’s refusal of the first project and persuaded the investors to look elsewhere as suggested by Dom Mintoff.
The Italian investors turned their sights on various alternative sites in Gozo. The area known as San Blas and another area known as Dahlet Qorrot were earmarked.
Yet again, the government had offered another solution. Fort Chambray, which was a dilapidated fort in need of serious restoration because of the prominent area it occupies at Mgarr Port, Gozo. The Italians had once again submitted their proposal and offered a spectacular project which included a hotel, dwelling units and a scuola alberghiera. But for undisclosed reasons, neither this project had gone through.
Under a Nationalist administration the Fort was later passed on to another Italian investor which had nothing to do with the initial company that wanted to restore Chambray into a tourist village.
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