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Gozo Channel sole bidder to run islands’ ferry service

Date: 12/04/2011

A consortium formed of two companies that run the Gozo ferry service was the only bidder for a government tender issued to provide transport between Malta and Gozo.

The Gozo Channel Transport Joint Venture was made up of Gozo Channel, which operates the service, and Gozo Ferries, which owns the boats. Both are government entities. The call for bids closed yesterday.

The Transport Ministry said the new contract would safeguard the interests of the Gozitans and all those who use the ferry service frequently, for a comfortable, safe journey while protecting jobs. The operator will not be able to increase the fares without making a formal request.

The call for offers was issued after the government discussed its draft call with the European Commission to ensure it conformed to EU rules. Gozo Channel had been awarded a six-year contract to run the service just days before Malta joined the EU in 2004. The contract had then been contested by the European Commission on the basis that no open call for tenders was issued, and ended up before the European Court of Justice. The government won the case, arguing that Malta was not bound by EU rules when the contract was signed.

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