3 APRIL 2002
By Miriam Dunn
The government has been stepping up the tempo in its bid to solve the long-running issue of how to give the Crafts Village at Ta Qali a much-needed overhaul.
According to a spokesman for Parliamentary Secretary Edwin Vassallo, who is set to visit the locality today, a new plan that is in the pipeline for the long-neglected site should see a new-look crafts centre complete with additional facilities up and running by summer next year.
The spokesman for the parliamentary secretary told this newspaper that over the past few weeks Mr Vassallo has held meetings with the hut owners to discuss the plans for the site.
And recently, the director general of the Association of General Retailers and Traders, which represents the hut owners, expressed his satisfaction that things looked to be moving at last at the Ta Qali crafts village.
"Time and again, the people in power have pledged to give Ta Qali an overhaul, but nothing has been done for at least a decade," Vince Farrugia said. "All administrations, and especially the Malta Development Corporation, are guilty of delays and indecision which have led to a place that has great potential becoming neglected and run down."
Mr Farrugia explained that following discussions with Mr Vassallos office, a document had been drafted which, following some fine-tuning, should show the way forward for the crafts village.
"The government now plans a public, private partnership which should be going out to tender and lead to the selection of a developer who will accept to rebuild the Ta Qali crafts village," he said. "In return, the contractor will receive land at Ta Qali which he can develop, according to stipulations laid down by the Planning Authority."
Mr Farrugia added that the agreement should augur well for a revamped crafts village with plenty of business potential, while also avoiding heavy state funding.
Mr Vassallos spokesman explained that the work will see the complete rebuilding of the premises for the owners at Ta Qali.
"The hut owners will keep the same floor space and will have their premises rebuilt from scratch, but will also have the option to build extra floors from their own funds," he said.
He voiced his optimism that the new project will bring a new lease of life to the crafts village, which is popular with tourists looking to buy souvenirs such as hand-blown glass and jewellery.