SOS Hondoq News

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What hope is there for an eco island concept?

Published on by James A. Tyrrell.

I have just been reading about the government's decision to scrap Gozo's eco pilot project for public transport. Now why doesn't this surprise me? As AD have already stated its okay if the Government to steal their ideas but you would think they would at least have the decency to implement them. As I have said in the past the Eco Gozo thing was something thought up before the last election in order to catch a few votes. Since that time nothing has been done.

We only have to look at the state of Hondoq ir-Rummien to see how much the Government care about Gozo. If that were not enough what about the rusted concrete eyesore at Dwejra. And if more evidence were required we must remember the proposal for the total destruction of Hondoq by the building of a marina complex and the idea of building an airstrip on the island to service the rich boys with their big toys.

Minister for Gozo, Giovanna Debono, against the wishes of the vast majority of Gozitans, Maltese and tourists, supports both of the above ideas. What hope is there for an eco island concept when the minister responsible for the island is so obviously against it?

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Emergency measures at Hondoq ir-Rummien

Published on by James A. Tyrrell.

I have just been sent some photographs taken today at Hondoq ir-Rummien. It would appear that this is someone’s bright idea to deal with the situation on a short-term basis. The reality is that this if anything has made the situation even more dangerous.

There are signs up warning of the danger, but have the kids taken a blind bit of notice of these signs? Of course not, because they are kids and life is just one big game. I have photos taken last week showing a young lad swimming in this hole with no regard to the large slabs of concrete, which could fall at any time.

Does the Minister for Gozo Giovanna Debono, because I’m sure she has been informed about the work being carried out here, think that this is a solution? Is a four high block wall going to keep the kids out? No it certainly is not. Giovanna let me tell you what is going to happen here. The kids are going to turn up and one by one these blocks are going to end up in the hole. Maybe one of the kids will go in for a swim and his friends will throw blocks in to splash him. That’s what kids do!

It is high time the Ministry stopped mucking around here and carried out an emergency repair of the quay on Health & Safety grounds before someone is killed. This is not a time for tenders, which on Malta and Gozo usually means jobs for friends; it is a time for action.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hondoq Ir-Rummien should not be turned into a Xlendi

Published on by Nestor Laiviera.

"Hondoq Ir-Rummien should not be turned into a Xlendi - its image identity should be retained and protected,” a third year architecture student emphasised.

The student was outlining a planning brief through which the abandoned desalinisation plant at Hondoq Ir-Rummien could be turned into a youth hostel, hosting both local and foreign students carrying out research in Gozo.

Students also expressed sentiments that the site is in danger of over-development, referring to a controversial project being currently considered to turn the Hondoq area into a heavily developed complex featuring as many as 225 apartments and a marina.

Government ministers, including the minister for Gozo Giovanna Debono, had expressed themselves in favour for the project, despite the majority (85%) of the Qala local community having voted against the project in a referendum held on the issue.

Additionally scientific studies carried out recently confirmed that Hondoq Ir-Rummien was found to be the beach with the cleanest water among all Maltese and Gozitan beaches .This study notably features also in the environmental impact statement which was part of the analysis of the proposed project

Six groups of third year architecture students outlined development briefs that sought to turn the dilapidated plant situation in Hondoq into a fully functional youth hostel.

The projects are part of an initiative between Flimkien Ghall-Ambjent Ahjar and the University Faculty of the Built Environment, which is launching two awards among students to promote sustainability and preservation of Malta’s heritage.

While all the plans approached the project from a different angle, all projects stressed the need to safeguard the area’s ecological significance and identity. The projects also heavily featured ideas of energy sustainability, and protection of the local biological integrity.

“The area is a very high density area for biological diversity,” one student said.

Another student expressed worries that the Hondoq site had become a “political issue”, emphasising the need for Gozo to become a green agricultural area, in line with its history and culture of agriculture.

“ The site unfortunately went downhill since the introduction of a quarry and a runoff plant. The area deserves a more fitting approach and culmination,” the student pointed out.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Storm damage at Ta’ Gordan and Hondoq Bay

Published on as a reply to Lesley Kreupl's letter.

With reference to the correspondence sent to your paper by Lesley Kreupl of Gharb, the Ministry for Gozo would like to make the following clarifications.

The heavy rainfall and the bad weather that prevailed during the past winter months, were the cause of a landslide which blocked the path leading to Gordan Lighthouse. Apart from the debris that fell across the path, part of the cliff face also became unstable and is in danger of collapse. The removal of the damaged cliff face posed the most difficult task to accomplish.

Contrary to what was implied in the correspondence in question, the Department of Projects and Development within the Ministry for Gozo, took immediate action in order to rectify the situation. Warning signs, as clearly shown in the attached photo, were promptly affixed in strategic points while applications for relative MEPA permits, required for works, were also submitted.

The department also sought to obtain quotations related with works connected with the clearing of debris and removal of dangerous cliff face. A contractor was subsequently appointed and relative works were started on Monday 6th April 2009. The prevailing inclement weather conditions have somewhat disrupted the work programme which had been progressing smoothly up to Thursday.

The Department for Projects and Development within the Ministry for Gozo has also been involved with regards to the situation at Hondoq Bay. The repair of the extensive damage caused to the quay by rough seas, involves substantial infrastructural work. However following the storms, workers from this department cleared large stones and other material that had been washed ashore. Dangerous fixtures were also removed immediately after the storm.

In the meantime, the Ministry for Gozo has issued a public tender for the 'removal of boulders from sea bed at Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay in Qala' (Advt.No. WB 06/2009). Sealed tenders relative to this call will be received up to 27th April 2009. The Ministry is also in the process of issuing another tender connected with the repair of the quay.

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A bad workman always blames his tools

Published on by James A. Tyrrell.

Having just read the comments by the CEO of the Malta Tourism Authority, Josef Formosa Gauci who says that Malta has the tools to counter tourism's problems it appears to me that he is trying to shift the blame for the present poor tourism figures on everyone but the MTA. We have an old saying in Britain, which I'm sure you also have in Malta, which is, a bad workman always blames his tools.

Personally I would rate Malta and especially Gozo for the courtesy of its people, the history, the laid back way of life and the really relaxing atmosphere. These are things, which do not require any investment because they are already in place. However there are other areas, which need to be looked at and looked at quickly if the down turn caused by the present economic situation is not to become a permanent fixture.

What the MTA should be concentrating on is maintaining the natural beauty of the country. That means they should be campaigning against the construction of more apartments etc until the present glut of empty properties are utilised.

They also need to restore places like Dwejra on Gozo back to the way it was and by that I mean get that ugly rusted concrete structure at the top of the hill removed. Here is an area selected as a possibility for the new 7 world wonders, which doesn't stand a snowball's hope in hell due to the state of the surrounding area. What message will that failure send out?

Obviously it goes without saying that the damage caused to the quay at Hondoq needs to be repaired as soon as possible. I understand that they expect this work to be completed before the summer but why has it taken so long? The dithering over this matter is beginning to look like a ploy by someone at Government level to leave the place in a run-down state so that they can sell the possibility of building a marina there against the wishes of the people.

Then we have the usual old chestnut raised on a regular basis that all Gozo needs is a direct air link with Malta and all its problems will be solved. What Gozo needs is a good subsidised helicopter service for those few people who require it and are willing to pay for it. What it certainly doesn't need is further destruction of precious land for an airstrip.

It's time Mr Gauci and the rest of the MTA got their heads out of the sand or wherever else they have them stuck and start doing the job they are paid for.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hondoq - An accident just waiting to happen

Published on by Lesley G. Kreupl.

This photo was taken on Good Friday - these two children were having fun running around in the sun and getting rid of some energy, probably after being confined indoors for hours during a nice family lunch.

However their energy and inquisitiveness could have had dire consequences. One little slip, a gust of wind, a wave, another bit of concrete breaking off.... It is not far to fall, but the rocks are razor sharp and the water icy. The temptation to look too great.....

Hondoq ir-Rummien was severely damaged by storms in the middle of January. Since then the beach has been graded and some of the boulders have been removed and dumped on the parking ground, a couple of notices have also been erected warning people not to venture any closer (not much use as children normally do not or cannot, read signs), the surviving ladders have been painted.

That is the extent of the repairs which have been carried out during the past 12 weeks! Wow....

To be fair, I realize that the dreadful weather must have hampered repair work at times, however, the huge gaping hole can still be approached from all sides - there are no safety barriers whatsoever. If this situation continues into the summer season, which is after all just a few weeks away, the potential danger created by this hole will be immense. I can just imagine 'brave' kids daring each other to venture down to explore it, worse still trying to jump or dive down into it. Night-time visitors stumbling in the dark, or even a car driving just too close!

In addition - as far as I could see - the boulders which were washed up against the quay where people dive from, are still there which means that the water is no longer very deep and therefore unsafe for diving.

All in all, this bay is in an extremely dangerous condition. Not only that, it certainly no longer exudes the welcoming charm people have come to expect and love! I feel sorry for those few tourists who will hopefully be able to afford to find their way to Gozo again this year - what a disappointment they are in for!

The repair work cannot be carried out, or paid for, by the Qala Local Council, the damage is simply too extensive. Therefore, the Ministry for Gozo and the Tourism Authority are duty bound to carry out the necessary repairs and embellishments to this bay without delay.

The government keeps on complaining about poor tourism figures, pays millions to consultancy companies to tell them what they are doing wrong and yet doesn't seem to be prepared to do anything to improve existing facilities. Shame, how sad, how sad for those whose livelihood depends on tourism!

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Clear danger at Ta' Ġordan lighthouse

Published on the Times of Malta on Wednesday 8th April, 2009.

There was a landslide on the track going up to the Ta' Ġordan lighthouse in Għasri several weeks ago. This is a very popular hill to walk up, especially at this time of the year. In addition to locals, many tourists also take this route due to the spectacular view from the top.

The other day, a German friend of mine who is visiting the island took this route and was horrified to see that nothing had been done to clear the landslide, nor were there any warning signs visible. Luckily, I had warned him that there had been a landslide a few weeks ago and that he should be careful.

His description of the scene was quite scary and he said that there were huge boulders balanced on the edge of the cliffs above the track, seemingly just ready to roll down on some poor unsuspecting person.

What Gozo and Malta really need to improve the present economic situation are a few squashed tourists!

Perhaps the authorities would be so kind as to use a few thousand euros of the proposed millions being made available for marketing the islands and subsidising mismanaged hotels to repair this dangerous track. At the same time Ħondoq Bay should also be repaired because it is another accident waiting to happen.

I trust that note will be taken of this dangerous situation and that it will be rectified as soon as possible, preferably before someone gets killed or injured!

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Hondoq ir-Rummien quay still awaiting repairs

Published on MaltaToday on Sunday 5th April, 2009.

Hondoq ir-Rummien quay is still a dangerous site for bathers, two months after a storm ravaged it and just months away from the beginning of the bathing season.

Residents told MaltaToday that although the beach was cleaned from large stones washed ashore, the beach is still full of small stones that could be in the way during the summer months if the project is not completed. Residents also reported that the sea surrounding it is full of rocks which could pose a danger to divers who jump from the quay.

The Department for Projects and Development within the Gozo ministry has initiated procedures to issue a tender for the quay’s repair, after being damaged by heavy storms.

Since the area is earmarked for a yacht marina and a massive residential project consisting of 285 residential units, Gozitans expressed concern that if the quay is not repaired before summer, Hondoq will become a no-go area for residents even before the project is even approved.

But a ministry spokesperson told MaltaToday it is envisaging all works will be completed before the bathing season.

According to the ministry action has also being taken to remove the boulders dislodged by rough seas near the quay. “Workers from the department have also cleaned the beach from large stones that were washed ashore. Dangerous fixtures were removed immediately after the storm,” a spokesperson said.

Monday, April 06, 2009

It-telqa f’Hondoq ir-Rummien

Pubblikata fiq it-Torca tal Hadd 5 ta' April, 2009.

Ghal dawn l-­ahhar snin, il-­bajja ta' Hondoq ir-Rummien kienet fl-ahbar­ijiet minhabba l-hsara li kienet se ssirilha minhabba l-progett ta' Qala Creek.

Din l-istess bajja sofriet hsa­rat kbar kawza tal-maltemp li hakimna matul ix-xitwa, hsarat li sal-lum ghadu ma sar xejn biex jissewwew. Tghid se jigri bhas-soltu u x-xoghol jibda meta jkollna t-turisti maghna?

Residenti Qalin li tkellmu mat-TORCA qalulna li din il­-bajja hija frekwentata minn turisti u Maltin u wiehed ma jistax jifhem ghala l-gvern ikompli jkaxkar saqajh u ma jibdiex ix-xoghol biex din il-­bajja terga' lura ghall-istat naturali li kienet fiha sa ftit tax-xhur ilu.

Il-Kunsill Lokali tal-Qala kellu jwahhal tabelli li javzaw lin-nies izommu boghod mill-periklu li jezisti. Fil-parti li sfrondat, il-­bahar kompla jghawwar minn taht u minhabba li l-konkrit ma kellux xibka, dan facilment inqasam. Minn bajja li wiehed jmur jqatta' siegha ghall-kwiet, saret post ta' periklu.

Din il-bajja hija l-mekka ta' bosta ghaddasa kwazi tul is-­sena kollha u hija tal-misthija li kollox thalla f'din is-sit­wazzjoni deplorevoli.

Taht din l-amministrazzjoni, wiehed ma jridx ikollu gherf specjali biex jinduna li dan id­-dewmien qieghed isir apposta biex ihejji t-triq ghall-progett propost. L-antiki jghidu: "Meta z-zmien itul, il-qrun idur" .

Imbasta l-ministru tat-­turizmu kollu pjani fuq il-­karla, imbaghad ma jsir xejn
biex dak li jigbed t-turist intej­buh. X'se jigri jekk xi hadd iwegga', l-aktar jekk ikun xi turist?

Tiskanta kif xejn ma jsir bis-­sens. L-uniku xoghol li sar kien it-tindif ta' gebel kbir li ngarr mill-bahar qawwi. Dan tpogga fejn jiltaqghu dawk li jinzlu fil-bajja biex jghaddu ftit tal-hin flimkien. Dan il-­gebel qieghed jaghti dehra kerha u zgur mhux isebbah l-­ambjent tal-bajja.

Kieku ghall-kliem sabih u d-­decizjonijiet t-tajba, l-ammist­razzjoni Gonzi tinsab fuq quddiem nett, izda meta nigu ghall-fatti, fatt wiehed johrog ­dak tat-taxxi, aggustamenti u gholi tal-hajja. Issa ilna s-snin nisimghu dwar Eko-Ghawdex u kemm ghandu pjani grand­juzi. Forsi jibda billi jaghmel park jew gnien nazzjonali f'dawn l-inhawi kif kien propost mill-Kunsill Lokali ftit tas-snin ilu? ll-pajsagg naturali ta' dawn l-inhawi zgur jigbed lil dawk Ii jridu jaharbu mill -hajja mghaggla ta' kuljum.

Tiskanta kif l-ebda ghaqda jew assocjazzjoni li jintbu qabel l-elezzjonijiet ma tohrog l-ebda stqarrija dwar dak li qieghed igerrex lit-turisti.

Fi zmien meta qeghdin na­raw gzejjer turistici fil-Medit­erran joffru btajjel bi prez­zijiet favoluzi biex jattiraw it-­turisti, hawn Malta l-gvern flok jipprova jrahhas il-hajja, qieghed jgholli r-rati tad-dawl, l-ilma, fuel u gass. Ir-rizultati qed jitkellmu wahidhom - Cifri mahruga mic-Centru Nazzjo­nali tal-Istatistika dwar it-­turisti juru li hemm tnaqqis ta' 10.6% fuq l-istess xahar tas-sena l-ohra.

Ħondoq ir-Rummien

Published on The Sunday Times on Sunday 5th April, 2009 by Angelo Xerri.

The beach and docking areas at Ħondoq ir-Rummien in Qala suffered a lot of damage from storms this year.

Repair works have started but are proceeding at a snail's pace. This also poses a danger to visitors, local or foreign. This beach and bay must be repaired without delay. Ħondoq Bay is a popular meeting place during the summer and there is no other place like it in Gozo, maybe even in Malta.

It also has the cleanest water for swimming on these islands and is less prone to jellyfish invasion than other beaches, thanks to the natural currents that act as a filter to keep this bay in pristine condition.

The people of Qala, including Maltese and foreign residents, hold this place close to their hearts, and it is especially popular with tourists, who include large numbers of visiting Maltese and Gozitans who have settled abroad.

In summer, Ħondoq ir-Rummien is a beehive of activity from early morning until past midnight, with people enjoying barbecues and other activities.

The authorities must do their bit to repair any damage and clean up Ħondoq without delay before somebody is hurt, and the summer rush is on.