“The growth in Grand Harbour operations and its immediate surroundings, has reconfirmed the urgency and importance for a master plan for the Valletta Grand Harbour” said Perit David Xuereb, Malta Chamber President last week.
“Such a plan should aim at maximising efficiency and further increase business flow in Malta’s primary port” Mr Xuereb said as he was opening an Information and Consultation Session, on the Valletta Grand Harbour Regeneration Plan. The event was organised by the Malta Chamber in collaboration with the Malta Maritime Forum.
“Our Grand Harbour is currently facing a multitude of challenges, foremost amongst which is capacity and the need for infrastructural upgrades. Substantial consideration must be given to the maximisation of efficiency as well as to offer current and potential new operators adequate support and facilities to increase business flow. A holistic approach together with substantial investment similar to that made in the Malta Freeport and Marsaxlokk Harbour projects should be allocated towards the regeneration of the Valletta Grand Harbour to bring about the same level of proven success” Perit Xuereb said.
The President noted that the Plan should take into account the social, economic and environmental concerns of the community, while also protecting the port’s historical and cultural heritage. “The Chamber believes that prior to the finalisation of the Plan, an exhaustive consultation process is key to ensure that all organisations and stakeholder groups are given the opportunity to discuss issues and challenges” Perit Xuereb concluded.
The information session proceeded with a presentation by Mr Godwin Xerri, Board Member of the Malta Maritime Forum, who informed members present about the current activities of the Grand Harbour and its physical restrictions. Mr Xerri noted that the Grand Harbour has seen a steady annual increase from 2010 to 2018, in all its port activities being General Cargo, Trailers and Containers, Ferries and Cruise Liner Passengers, Grain, Cement, Gravel, Fuel, Ship Repair, Tank Cleaning, Tugboats, Vessel Layup, Floating Dry Docks, Yacht Marinas, Fishing Boats, Regatta and Fireworks Festival.
During the consultation session, moderated by Mr Michael Callus, CEO and Board Member Malta Maritime Forum, members stressed that while the use of, and increasing the number of berths was a priority, storage capacity was equally important.
The members highlighted the urgent need to dredge the whole area, to regenerate the Inner Harbour, to upgrade the infrastructure in particular the roads and cater for the increasing energy requirements of the Habour.
Closing the session Dr. Joe Borg, Chairman Malta Maritime Forum thanked the Chamber President and the members present for their valuable contribution, and stressed that the Valletta Grand Harbour Re-Generation Plan, must be viewed as a holistic plan and come about in a structed manner, as inclusive of the different shareholders as possible, seeking to safeguard the existing activities, whilst maximizing in a sustainable manner any growth potential that may be identified.