By Citizen K.
Why is public land in Marsalforn’s Il-Menqa being gobbled up as you read this? Why is Menqa up for grabs to the rich as the citizens have to dribble around fastly disappearing space? Who has granted permission for the massive awnings that came up in just two days and will be ready in about another two as trucks, with “The Awnings, Malta” emblazoned on them, have descended en masse from Malta to start and finish the land takeover at record speed?
Multimillions were spent on renovating the Marsalforn seafront about three years ago. Minister Clint Camilleri’s name was plastered on stone and marble plaques to remind one and all that Lorry Sant of the Twenty-First century has come to save Gozo (and his career). All the illegal awnings were stripped away as a new dawn descended on Menqa, a public-owned jewel of a port with its colourful boats. Yet, we all suspected that, sooner or later, greedy restaurants will steal it back.
Enter Ta’ Dirjanu. With a multi-grocery chain and partner to Joseph Portelli’s construction empire, Ta’ Dirjanu bought four massive and adjacent garages, originally boathouses to the “luzzus,” and is transforming them into what could possibly become the island’s largest restaurant. With the exception of the ever-present Murella (at Calypso) and Odyssey restaurants, other restaurants ebb and flow in Menqa due to the vagaries of business. Out of nowhere, Ta’ Dirjanu has captured about half of the port’s restaurant real estate potential. We wish him well. But we object to the ruthless encroaching upon public land in front of the mega restaurant without public notice posted outside the boathouses. The awnings don’t belong. They have to go.
After the recent outpouring of anger and grief about the state’s failure in the Jean Paul Sofia case, we hoped that the government would stop its illegal practice of turning a blind eye towards, or worse still, abetting in, the divvying up of public land without any transparency or accountability. Police arrests were made with fanfare just days ago to show that the nation has turned a corner for the better. But in Marsalforn and its Żebbuġ Local Council, it’s the same old, same old, complete with The Awnings and Ta’ Dirjanu at the helm (in the photo yesterday). And a Clint Camilleri plaque to boot.