The never-ending struggle for Gozo

Ron Johnston (Tunnel Is Way Beyond Malta’s Means, March 12) may wish to know some facts dealing with accessibility between the two main islands of which he seems to be unaware.

A high-speed passenger craft was in use as early as the 1960s by means of an Aliscafo service which used to cross from Mġarr Harbour to the Grand Harbour in Valletta in 30 minutes.

In the late 1980s, a hovercraft service was introduced by Gozo Channel, again making the crossing from Gozo to Sa Maison in 30 minutes. In the mid-1990s, Gozo Channel became the owners of a catamaran, seating some 240 passengers and also being able to cross the same distance in 30 minutes. During the latter part of the 1980s and during the 1990s daily trips were performed between Sa Maison and Mġarr carrying cargo to and from Gozo.

Again in the late 1980s and in the 1990s an air link was established between Luqa Airport and the heliport at Xewkija, which was operational for the best part of a decade. Three new vessels commissioned in the mid-1990s and purposely built to operate in the Gozo Channel and beyond also merit a mention. Since then three of the services mentioned above have stopped, namely the fast service by sea, the daily cargo trips and the air link. This goes to show that the services providing further accessibility between the two main islands in the Maltese archipelago have in actual fact over the past years declined in numbers and quality of performance.

That was the time when Gozo and Malta were better linked than ever, around the clock through a good, efficient, high-speed service working regularly with very small intervals on land, sea and air and catering for all kinds of Gozitans’ needs.

The services made both Gozo and Malta more accessible for Gozitans, Maltese and foreigners holidaying in Gozo in greater numbers. Such initiatives contributed in no small measure to making Gozo attractive for new investments that created hundreds of new jobs resulting in higher standards of living for the Gozitans in Gozo itself.

It is a pity that most of such initiatives are no longer with us. All that was lost or, to put it straight, taken from us can be regained. But only if we stand steady, united and resolute in the never-ending struggle for what Gozo and we Gozitans rightly deserve and stand for.

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