It started with Alfred Sant’s conference in October, titled ‘Gozitan Aspirations’, where GUG presented a survey showing that Gozitan students have already accepted that their chances of finding a job in Malta or abroad are better than on their own island.
Then a study about the economic feasibility of a subsea tunnel between Gozo and Malta came out on November 20. It was commissioned by Transport Malta, BOV and the Gozo Business Chamber, led and presented by E-Cubed Consultants and its Executive Director, economist Gordon Cordina.
A week later, the expected visit to Gozo by the Queen and other CHOGM dignitaries were cancelled due to bad weather. The weather caused delays, longer travelling times and a reduction in the number of trips between the islands.
Following these developments, Gozitan university students Jonathan Mintoff, Beppe Galea, Carla Galea and Marija Cachia, launched the ‘Front Favur il-Mina’ movement on social media on November 30. This movement was created “for all daily commuters who believe that the tunnel will create better accessibility, save commuting time and solve the double insularity problem”.
A news conference was also held at San Maison, a berthing place for Gozo Channel, on December 1. Both Labour MP Franco Mercieca and Nationalist MP Chris Said attended to show their support to the movement and reiterated their political belief that the tunnel is the only way to solve the ‘Gozo problem’. This conference was an important gesture - a sign of political commitment from both political parties - that the tunnel will not become politicised.
The biggest concern for many is whether this will lead to progress and development or tarnish the island’s identity. What will happen to Gozo Channel? Will it operate only for tourists? How are the funds going to be obtained? Many questions have yet to be answered in a debate that seems about to be looming for the next general election.
Moreover the movement stated that they agree with local environmental organisations that further studies and that the option of having a referendum on the issue is worthless since people already voted for a permanent link.
However praise needs to be handed out to these students for coming up with this initiative to mobilise the Gozitans, pressure their politicians and put this issue back on the political agenda. The future of Gozo seems to be a worry for many Gozitans, however only time will tell whether such a movement and these events will shape the future of the Maltese islands.