Fast ferry tender process 'completely suspended' after Virtu Ferries objects

Closing date extended till May 24

The process to find an operator for a fast ferry service from Gozo to Valletta has been “completely suspended” by the Contracts Department and will now close in four weeks’ time.

The successful bidder for the 350-passenger catamaran service will have to take over the operations currently served by Gozo Channel. This led the ferry service provider to issue a call for partners to join its bid, and it announced some days ago that, out of the seven bids received, it had selected Islands Ferry Network, which is made up of Magro Brothers Investments Ltd and Fortina Investments Ltd.

Read: Gozo Channel fast ferry service bidder chosen

However, one of the discarded bidders, Virtu Ferries, promptly expressed its disappointment that its bid was overlooked in favour of “a company set up a week ago by people having no experience in the sector”.

The Contracts Department said that a ‘call for remedies’ had been made by Virtu. The process was therefore suspended and the new closing date for the RFP is May 24 at 10am.

The process has been marred by controversy and problems from the start. The original tender was originally meant to close in July 2017 but was extended to January 31, 2018. The government then issued a complete new request – a day before the closing date – which was meant to close April 26.

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