In a few more days, work is expected to start on cleaning Għar Għerduf, a site which has historical and archaeological value in Kercem, with the intention of creating a project which can be appreciated by the public for the first time. This will be possible following the action taken by the Government to purchase the privately-owned land.
On the side of the main street which leads to the centre of the village of Kercem, one can find Għar Għerduf, where there are ruins and catacombs from the times of the Romans and possibly the first evidence of Gozitan Christianity.
Two years ago the site was caught up in a controversy following the granting of permission to build a house near it. The permission was withdrawn by the Planning Authority. As a result of this, the Government took the necessary steps to buy the privately-owned land connected to the archeological site, in order to make it public.
The Lands Authority pushed forward the procedures so that the Government could acquire four plots of land, which include the catacombs and their surroundings. The cost of the expropriation of this land came to €405,000 and was paid for by the Gozitan Ministry.
“The Ministry issued the funds so that this can become Government-owned property, and so that the necessary preservation and conservation can start. There will now be a project to ensure that the public can enjoy this site,” said Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana.
A spokesperson for the Gozo Ministry had told TVM that blueprints and designs are being prepared to be submitted for the approval of the Planning Authority.
Among the NGOs which worked hard so that Għar Għerduf can be saved from development there was Wirt Għawdex. The President, Giovanni Zammit, thanked the Gozo Ministry which, after expropriating the site to give it back to the public, also involved Wirt Għawdex in the restoration and renovation.
Mr Zammit said that under the supervision of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, over the next few days the cleaning up of the site should begin. “We will start with the cleaning. If required we can even carry out further research and we will leave it in the hands of the Superintendence to carry this out. After this work is finished we will then go for one of the two plans which the Ministry of Gozo has in its hands. We will choose one of them to set up a type of information centre so that whoever comes to this area, whether locals or foreign visitors, will be able to learn about the history of this place.”
Mr Zammit did not exclude the need for further excavation and indicated that one of the plans of the Ministry will take into consideration the possibility of acquiring more land for better access from the road.