Plants and shrubs in a number of gardens and locations that were using the services of the Environmental Landscapes Consortium (ELC) have completely dried up.
This after landscaping contracts with ELC expired and no new calls for tenders were issued and cast by the Local Councils because it has not yet been decided whether the contract ELC has with the government, which expires at the end of the year, will be renewed.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Environment said that while discussions are being held with ELC, the Government will be adhering to the recommendation of the Auditor General and issuing a public call for gardening works in public spaces.
The shrubs and flowers in public spaces have shrivelled up not only because of summer but because they were not being watered because the contract in place between ELC and Local Councils had expired and was not renewed.
The Naxxar and Qrendi mayors told TVM that they were struggling to find another contractor that offered the same service for a similar price to that offered by ELC.
Naxxar mayor, Anne Marie Muscat Fenech Adami said she hopes to find a solution.
“We were hopeful but we were told that they could no longer provide us with their service. We had a huge drought in Naxxar, and had to issue a direct order of € 5,000 so that our gardens would at least be watered because everything had started to dry up. Now we are waiting to hear from the Minister on a way forward way to have a larger amount, so that Naxxar will flower again ‘
In Qrendi, ELC extended its service by two months up till next month. Mayor David Schembri, said however that the service had been reduced and the gardener who was assigned to the locality of Qrendi, is now working somewhere else.
‘The difference is in fact huge and the flowers are no longer as abundant as before; where before there was a strong workforce, today flowers are not being watered as often and planting is not being done as regularly.”
President of Local Councils Associations, Mario Fava, said the 38 Local Council who were dependent on the services of ELC, should issue a call to find a new operator.
“If this will translate into a price increase then one must speak to the Financial controller to see how this money is to be allocated and how to help Local Councils – even if it is in the form of a direct allocation they are given at the beginning of next year.”
A spokesman for ELC said that the consortium is in contact with the Government discussing the possible extension of the contract between the Government and ELC. He said that if the contract was extended, it could also provide services to Local Councils.
The Ministry of Environment said in a statement that while discussions with the consortium and the Local Council Association were underway, Ministries would adhere to the Auditor General’s recommendation, for the choice of public gardening operator to be made following a public call.