Dangers posed by abandoned hotel
The Ponta tal-Gżira area in Marsascala is popular with bathers. Until a few years ago, when the Jerma Palace Hotel, then owned by LAFICO and run by the Corinthia Group, was still functioning, the area was kept in a satisfactory state and people could safely enjoy the environs during the hot summer months.
Since the hotel closed down in March 2007, however, the area has become derelict. Bathers who still frequent the area know that the site has attracted a number of illegal campers. Until two years ago, these campers could even park their vehicles on the seashore.
Moreover, it is very easy to get inside the building, which is in a dangerous state, and is open to any kind of unlawful activity. One should stress that there are no security measures which ensure that the premises are monitored.
In 2008 an application to demolish the existing structure and build a hotel and a number of residential units was submitted at Mepa. Yet no decision has been taken so far, and there is no sign of any new development. The situation is only getting worse.
The area is attracting people who illegally camp there, leaving a mess behind them. They are turning it into a dumping site. Nobody seems to be monitoring the situation.
Although, since the hotel closed down, no development has taken place, someone should be held responsible for the upkeep of the area and for public safety.
To reach the seashore at il-Ponta tal-Gżira, one has to take a long walk through the entrance at Triq is-Salini. Alternatively, one could go through what remains of the Jerma Palace Hotel, through the entrance at Triq ir-Ridott. In this case, however, one would risk being injured because one either has to step on the deck of an empty swimming pool, through broken glass bottles and other dumped material, or walk on a slippery seashore. It is also worth mentioning the dangerous state of the building itself.
Moreover, no particular effort is required to get inside the building, climb up the stairs, and go into the rooms. All the railings have now been removed and it is easy for an accident to happen.
Let us imagine what would happen if children were playing in this derelict building and one of them fell from a height of three or four storeys. It is very possible now since there are no longer any railings to offer protection.
In this situation who is to be held responsible? Do we know who the new owners are? Is the building owned by one person or more? Do the owners, or those who claim to be the owners, hold a title to the entire area? Are there any other parties involved who still have a title to the property? Are the owners aware that all kinds of abuses can easily take place there? We all know what had happened to abandoned buildings in the past. I only hope this is not taking place here.
The site is a dangerous hazard. What sense does it make to have a derelict building in such a strategic position? Does it make any sense that from the seashore, a concrete monster is overshadowing St Thomas Tower, a 300-year-old fort? Should not the hotel be dismantled by the authorities and the owners asked to foot the bill?
If the owners are unable to redevelop the site, have they ever considered pulling down the entire hotel and possibly remove all the hazards?
What used to be a gem in Marsascala is now posing a threat to the health and safety of those who frequent the area. Let us only hope the former Jerma Palace Hotel won’t follow the same fate of White Rocks.
Nobody is compelling the owners to redevelop the site but the least they can do is clean up the mess.