Development on virgin land was ‘unnecessary’
Updated 12.30pm with PL, Front Ħarsien ODZ statements
The Nationalist Party is seeking to reverse the transfer of the large plot of public land in Żonqor which leased to Jordanian investors for the construction of the American University of Malta.
The request was formally made on Tuesday morning by PN deputy leader for parliamentary affairs David Agius who presented a motion to Speaker Anglu Farrugia.
Both Mr Agius and PN environment spokesman Karol Aquilina argued that the development on virgin land was not necessary, as this private institution has failed to attracted the high number of students promised by the Sadeen Group.
The motion stated that the investors had promised to bring 4,000 students but this target had gone haywire as at present there are only 15 students.
“The current AUM student population is even less than a private lesson,” Dr Aquilina remarked.
“It is amply clear that this development is not for educational purposes but for speculative reasons,” he added.
When it was pointed out to Dr Aquilina that the target of 4,000 students was not meant to be reached after the first year, he pointed out that the contract tabled in parliament had set a first-year target of 300 students.
“Nonetheless, this has also been missed by a very wide margin, and so the transfer of land should be rescinded as there is no need for a university campus at Żonqor,” he said.
The date for the motion debated will be decided when the House Business Committee meets on Saturday.
Opposition still hijacked by negative elements – PL
In a statement, the Labour Party accused the Nationalist Opposition of still being hijacked by negative elements that were trying to interpret statements out of context.
MP Karol Aquilina and the “faction” he was representing should have remembered that, in recent months, the government, through Education Minister Evarist Bartolo, had indicated more than once that work on the Żonqor campus should only start when an expansion was needed at the Cospicua campus.
This made the Opposition’s motion useless and premature.
The PL said AUM had gone through a meticulous and tough process to be given a university licence and all studies indicated that the project should be successful.
It was a shame that the Opposition was, yet again, hindering investment instead of encouraging a project out of which the south would benefit.
Front Ħarsien ODZ welcomes motion
Meanwhile, Front Ħarsien ODZ welcomed the PN’s motion, saying it had always insisted that ODZ land in the area should never have been allocated for development irrespective of the number of students attending the university.
It appealed to all parliamentarians to support the motion in a way which reflected non-partisan consensus against environmental degradation and ODZ development.