More than half a million euros needed to repair a new barely used shooting range

Barely four years after its inauguration, the new, state-of-the-art €14 million shooting range at Ta’ Kandja already needs more than half a million euros for repairs.

The Shift is informed that the shooting range, which saw little use except for the ISSF World Cup in 2018, suffered significant damage to its shooting net capture system, which requires a full set.

The facility, on the outskirts of Siggiewi, has been left virtually derelict for the past few years, with little or no maintenance.

The government, which before the 2017 elections had promised the National Shooting Federation to run the facility, then reneged on its promise and all but let the range collapse despite its eight-figure price tag.

Since the shooting range was built in an area normally reserved for the police academy, without planning permission, the facility is left closed for long periods of time due to security concerns related to the formation of the police.

Asked by The Shift how much the necessary repairs will cost and who will pay for the massive outlay since the National Shooting Range is still nearly new, SportMalta, the government agency responsible for running the shooting range, refused to answer.

Mark Cutajar, the government-appointed CEO of SportMalta, declined to say whether repairs will be covered by the original installers themselves, who received millions of euros in direct orders in 2017 to carry out what was a rushed project plagued by questionable direct orders and budget. overruns – so much so that the project was condemned by the National Audit Office investigation.

Government sources told The Shift that the necessary repairs, particularly to the safety net after it lay abandoned without any maintenance in recent years, are expected to cost more than €600,000, which will be paid for by taxpayers.

A tender for companies wishing to provide the necessary services has already been launched by SportMalta and is expected to close shortly.

Announced on the eve of the 2017 election by disgraced Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in an attempt to draw votes from shooting enthusiasts and the hunting lobby, the project turned into a case of utter mismanagement and irregularities which have been documented in detail by the NAO. .

Originally planned for a cost of 7 million euros, the project ended up costing taxpayers twice as much, with most of the work awarded without competitive bidding and instead via the award of massive direct orders.

With Parliamentary Secretary Chris Bonnet now at the helm of SportMalta, the former Malta Football Association lawyer has cleared a total of 24 direct orders worth millions of euros to a few selected contractors close to the government.

Bonnici Brothers, whose managing director Gilbert Bonnici was in the field of real estate development with Prime Minister Robert Abela, took the bulk of the direct orders, for a value of more than 6.5 million euros.

Almost all of these direct orders were placed without the necessary authorizations and, in many cases, were not even covered by performance bonds.

The support part of the project, which Bonnici Brothers received on direct order, cost 2.3 million euros while the shooting net system, which now needs massive repairs, cost 2.3 million additional euros to taxpayers.

BAVA holdings, whose shareholders are Labour’s close associates Construct Furniture, took the bulk of the rest of Bonnet’s direct orders, which were also worth millions.

Following the NAO report, police had begun investigating allegations of bribery in authorizing direct orders for the project, but no charges were ever filed.