The Public Contracts Review Board has dismissed an application, contesting the award of a concession to run a scheduled ferry service to Comino to a single operator.
Clyde Muscat, Blue Lagoon Ferry Co-op Ltd, Lawrence Azzopardi and Ian Azzopardi had filed an appeal to the Board after receiving notice from Transport Malta that all other current operators would not be authorised to provide passenger ferry services on the route, effectively limiting the provision of the service from the North of Malta to Comino to only one operator.
The operator, Comino Ferries Coop – a joint venture made up of four operators – now has exclusive rights for 15 years to provide scheduled passenger ferry services by sea on the route between the coastal area covering Cirkewwa South Quay to Marfa and the berthing facilities and landing places in Blue Lagoon and Santa Marija Bay in Comino.
Comino Ferries Coop had later released a statement explaining that it had in fact been the sole operator to bid for the tender, issued by Transport Malta last July, for a single entity to run the ferry service from Marfa and Cirkewwa.
In a decision handed down today, Chairman Anthony Cassar and members Lawrence Ancilleri and Carmel Esposito ruled that the contract, awarding the concession was valid and effective.
It noted that, contrary to what was being argued, prior notice of the contract had been published in the Official Journal of the European Union on May 29, 2019, and on the Public Procurement Platform on August 2 2019.
The Board expressed its dismay and surprise at the appellants claim that they were prejudiced due to lack of knowledge of the publication of the request for proposals, after taking into consideration the fact that the appellants had requested clarifications during the process and so were “well aware” of the existence of the contract.
It also confirmed that “the whole procedure instituted and carried out by the Contracting Authority was in total conformity with provisions of domestic and European Union legislation.”
Lawyers Jonathan Mintoff and Larry Formosa represented the appellants, while lawyer Mark Simiana appeared on behalf of Comino Ferries Co-op Ltd. Lawyer Shazoo Ghaznavi appeared as the legal representative of Transport Malta.