The mega-infrastructures built around the Shoreline project in Smart City raise concerns

A collection of large structures including covered metal sheds, mobile homes and containers have appeared at the Kalkara Smart City site, coinciding with the arrival of some 400 Turkish construction workers hired to build the Shoreline development project. of several million euros.

The structures, erected a few weeks ago, dominate the horizon. Concerns have been expressed that they could be used illegally to house foreign workers.

The Shift checks show that the planning authority has given no permission for any form of “dormitory” to be erected adjacent to the development area.

Asked to explain, a spokesperson for the PA confirmed that the structures are “only temporary” and should not be used as housing for workers.

“These are temporary ancillary works and for the duration of the works covered by the approved town planning permit PA / 01029/18. The structures include a warehouse, site offices and workers’ accommodation (cafeteria, changing rooms and washrooms) which are all approved in the construction management plan.

The massive “temporary” structures on the site of The Shoreline, a project under construction on public land

According to the plan submitted, some 400 builders will be on site, with work to be done six days a week between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. The plan includes the erection of temporary structures, which also include facilities such as a canteen and showers for workers.

No rooms are foreseen in the plans presented to the PA although the “temporary structure” is so massive that it can easily accommodate workers at night or on their days off.

Industry sources told The Shift that if, on paper, the developers of Shoreline say the workers will not be living there, “it remains to be seen what will happen.”

A Smart City spokesperson told The Shift that the development is unrelated to their business as it is a third-party development following the sale of Smart City ownership to Shoreline developers.

Shoreline did not respond to questions.

Inexpensive labor for multi-million dollar projects

The Shift surveys show the project, which also includes the construction of a huge shopping center, as well as some 400 ‘luxury’ apartments, will be carried out by a Turkish construction company called Koray Insaat, based in Istanbul.

The company, which calls itself “one of Turkey’s leading construction companies”, will not use Maltese workers, but instead will bring in some 400 builders to work on the project.

The cost of hiring Turkish builders is lower than hiring local craftsmen, giving contractors and developers an edge over other Maltese construction projects.

As Turkey is not a member of the EU, the government should have facilitated the importation of these workers.

This is not the first project to use foreign construction companies for megaprojects.

A few years ago the owners of the Fortina Hotel hired another Turkish company – TACA Construction– to build their new hotel and offices in Sliema. The same company was used by the DB group to build the controversial extension of St Vincent De Paul.

TACA Construction had encountered serious problems during the projects and is now facing a series of civil actions initiated by Maltese companies who claim they are owed hundreds of thousands of euros.

The Shoreline and Smart City scandals

The development of Shoreline – another speculative real estate project – came about after Smart City began selling public property that was originally designated for an IT village.

In 2008, the owners of Smart City, companies owned by the government of Dubai, received approximately 350,000 square meters of public land in Xgħajra and Kalkara to become a computer center.

However, the project did not take off, and although the Maltese government has the right to claim the public land, the Labor government instead allowed the Dubai owners to sell and transfer part of the public land to the Shoreline owners for create another ‘luxury apartment development and shopping centers.

Lawyers Kevin Deguara and Jean Farrugia of DF Advocates. Deguara has been involved in several controversial government projects and his home and office were recently raided by police.

At the time of this decision, the government, which owns 10% of the capital of Smart City, was represented by Keith Schembri, then chief of staff to the disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Promoted by businessman Steve Carter, who was later accused of money laundering and ousted from development, the project is now owned by a group of businessmen led by a South African millionaire. Ryan Edward Otto.

Its partners are Roderick Psaïla, former CEO of Agribank, and his wife and partners of DF Advocates, Jean Farrugia and Kevin Deguara.

Deguara is known in business circles to be very close to Keith Schembri and he received a number of direct commissions during Schembri’s years in Castile. He has been involved in several controversial government projects, and his home and office have recently been searched by the police investigating allegations of wrongdoing in the privatization of three public hospitals.

Deguara is also involved in a range of other businesses and sits on the boards of various companies, including D Shopping and Dizz Finance – the financial arm of Diane and Karl Izzo’s Dizz group – and Sadeen Education Investments Ltd – the company behind the besieged American university. from Malta.

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Louis Miller

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