An extension at the Bulebel industrial zone raised an commotion among farmers in Żejtun due to the land encroachment situated in the confines of the industrial estate which is not yet developed. Interviewed by TVM, Malta Industrial Parks chief executive, Karl Azzopardi, said that the farmland was in the hands of persons who had no legal title.
The Malta Industrial Parks started the process to expand the Bulebel industrial area, with Mr Azzopardi saying that a stretch of land, in the limits of Żejtun, is the only area owned by the Malta Industrial Parks intended for industrial development.
“It’s high time to kick start it as the land is natural and the only area remaining in the hands of MIP and the government, which is predefined as industrial estate. However, we are being careful and sensitive on how this is done”, Mr Azzopardi stated.
He said that with the project, the Bulebel industrial estate will increase by around 120,000 square metres, which will be used for new industries however trees in the fields will be retained, particularly carob trees which are protected.
Farmers who work the land expressed concern that they will not continue their work as they have been doing for years.
Farmer Lawrence Grima said: “we have been here since our forefathers; we have potatoes and vines which I had to abandon due to the decision as I am not going to do useless work”.
Another farmer, Andrew Abela said: “we have no title because they brought us in this state, considering us as a sort of squatters – we just took the land without permit. We have been in this farmland since our great-grandparents, some two hundred or two hundred and fifty years. Now what has to be done is done”.
Farmers said that in July they were requested to evict the fields. Mr Azzopardi stated that the Malta Industrial Parks cannot talk to those occupying the land because they do not own a contract or its legal title. “In that case we are following the process provided by law so that eviction orders will be issued”.
Mr Azzopardi added that a consultation will be carried out with entities who cherish Żejtun and the Local Council so that the extension will have public areas. He said that this is the last land which will be developed by the MIP with a strategy to use existing industrial spaces in a better way.