This is one of those arguments which we love to argue about. This duality, of yes versus no is very reflective of our culture and our love for binary oppositions. Last year, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat stated that work was being done with regards to building a tunnel between Malta and Gozo and it could be up and running within seven years (now six).
So what are the arguments in favour of a tunnel? For one, travel time will be reduced, as people travelling from Malta to Gozo and vice versa will no longer need to board a ferry. This positively impacts those who travel with it on a regular basis for work, or else to study at the University of Malta. This will undoubtedly make things easier for Gozitans studying in Malta as there would be no need to rent an apartment, due to the hassle of travelling back to Gozo. Apart from this, the waiting time in traffic leading up to the ferry will be a thing of the past.
With a tunnel, Gozo becomes more accessible to the Maltese and our tourists. This would undoubtedly increase activity in Gozo and contribute to its economy. Just think about the increase in occupancy rates for Gozitan restaurants and hotels. Even tourists who rent a car will have it easier to visit Malta’s sister island.
On the other hand, we have those who are strongly against the idea of adjoining Malta and Gozo via a tunnel. This side argues that making it more accessible will basically transition Gozo into an extension of Malta, making it lose its identity. Gozo is a quiet place with a certain appeal, and those against the tunnel argue that it will become similar to Malta with its high-rise buildings and its hustle and bustle.
A tunnel will make the Gozo experience less attractive since the ferry is part of the trip. It will no longer be deemed as a short holiday for the Maltese, since it becomes accessible via a simple drive.
Gozo is undoubtedly facing change, an ageing population and the younger generation seeking pastures in Malta to satisfy their career ambitions.
Is the tunnel the right step forward in Gozo’s development?