Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg visited the Grand Harbour Breakwater where maintenance and repairs are underway by Infrastructure Malta with an investment of €1 million. The structure, divided into a 370-metre long part and a 120-metre part, was built in 1910, and throughout 110 years, the elements dislodged several stone blocks, which creates the risk of further erosion and irreparable damages. Last summer, Infrastructure Malta started replacing the missing elements together with other maintenance and restoration works on this important coastal infrastructure.
Minister Ian Borg said that, “this project is essential as this maritime infrastructure is a crucial element for the Grand Harbour, which is not only a treasure filled with history and heritage but is an important economic source for our country. I would like to add, however, that our commitment towards better maritime infrastructure does not begin and end with this breakwater but stretches along our maritime coast.”
The minister referred to a number of other planned upcoming projects, including the €49.9 million investment set to reduce air pollution caused by cruise liners by 90%, named the Grand Harbour Clean Air Project, as well as other projects like the reconstruction of Sally Port in Vittoriosa, and the upgrade of Deep Water Quay, Pinto Wharf, Lascaris Wharf and Fuel Wharf. He also mentioned a number of other ongoing projects, including the Qrejten Breakwater, the project on berthing quays in Tal-Magħluq in Marsaxlokk, the Mġarr Menqa project in Gozo, facilities for ferry services in Sliema and Cospicua and the maintenance and rebuilding of several pontoons and quays in Marsascala, Mġarr ix-Xini, Balluta and Ċirkewwa.
Among works on the Grand Harbour Breakwater, a team of divers and other workers collected original stone blocks that had fallen into the surrounding water over the years. This material was cleaned and inspected and what could be reused was put pack in place along the breakwater’s edge while similar stones were imported from a quarry in Trani, Puglia to replace what was broken. Repairs are also ongoing on the deck slabs together with cleaning of tar stains and other materials.
Works also include maintenance on the bridge connecting the St Elmo side of the breakwater to Valletta. This bridge was included in 1910 but was destroyed by Italian vessels during World War II. Eight years ago, a similar bridge was built in the same place and repairs and fresh paint are currently ongoing on the metal structure together with the replacement of damaged parts of the wooden deck. New handrails will be installed as well as a better lighting system with new connections.
Weather permitting, all works on this project are to be completed by the end of the year.