For around two hours on Thursday morning, the entire region of Gozo was left without any electricity. Save those with a back-up generator, businesses, homes, schools and Government offices were left in the lurch after a contractor working in Mellieha damaged high-voltage cables. Indeed, the trenching works took out two key cables supplying electricity to the entire region of Gozo.
The incident happened at around 11.15am, and, according to Enemalta, power was restored to half the island by 2pm.
By 2.15, Enemalta informed the public that it “restored electricity supply to [its] customers in Gozo through an alternative connection, after [it] tested the cable to make sure it was not impacted by today’s incident”.
“Meanwhile, our engineers and technicians are working to repair the damaged 33kV cables as soon as possible. Short electricity supply interruptions in parts of Gozo may be required later today, as we complete the ongoing cable works.”
This comes a week after both Malta and Gozo faced power cuts in relation to storm Helios which battered the country.
Gozo’s connectivity in general has been a top priority for the business community on the sister island. The Gozo Business Chamber has repeatedly raised concerns that the previous singular fibre optic cable providing internet to the entire island was a major deterrent for businesses determining whether to set up shop in Gozo.
And, while a second fibre optic cable has since been installed providing more stability to the region’s internet connectivity, Gozo Business Chamber CEO Daniel Borg remarked that the same argument can be applied for Gozo’s electricity connectivity.
Asked to comment by BusinessNow.mt, Mr Borg said that with regards to arguments put forward for data connectivity, the Chamber’s “main argument was that potential investors would not invest here in Gozo if certain structural handicaps are not addressed.”
“The same applies here,” he pointed out, adding that “there should be a back up plan in this case. A secure and constant power supply is a factor which we take for granted, however, this incident shows that this is not the case. Redundancy and rerouting of the energy power supply is something which this incident has shown is needed if we are to continue to advance, both socially and economically.”
Gozo’s tourism-based businesses are currently gearing up for the annual Carnival celebrations, taking place 16-18th February, which sees thousands of Maltese revellers flock to the sister island for a weekend of celebrations. Typically, restaurants, bars, hotels and BnBs are fully booked while the island will be buzzing with activity.
Therefore, any damage to electronics caused by sudden power outages will have taken place at a highly inopportune time.
Here, Mr Borg said that Thursday’s incident “should be an eye opener with respect to the present structural issues” faced by the island of Gozo.
Asked about the monitoring of the construction industry, and whether enough enforcement takes place – Mr Borg highlighted that the current number of incidents clearly show that more should be done to monitor the industry, “even if this means going at a slower pace, all the precautions need to be taken.”
While the reputation of the construction industry at a national level has worsened over recent years, thanks to a building boom which has had very notable downsides, the past week has seen the sector thrown in exceptionally bad light.
This week, the country saw construction giants Polidano Bros Ltd and Joseph Portelli exchange blame after video footage emerged of highly dangerous demolition works.
Damaged high-voltage cables that caused the power outage / Photo by Enemalta
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