The new fast ferry service between Valletta and Mgarr Harbour in Gozo has been beset by complaints about plumes of black smoke being emitted from vessels of all operators, but Virtu Ferries claims that those emitted from its ships are a result of “forced manoeuvres requiring sudden increased power”, and “not a regular occurrence”.
Even as many celebrated the introduction of the new fast ferry service, residents of Valletta and others have been quick to note that vessels are at times belching clouds of smoke, sometimes dangerously close to residential areas, forcing them to close their windows just as the summer heat is setting in.
Floriana Councillor James Aaron Ellul took to Facebook last week to call out operators for not doing more to prevent harm to residents and the environment.
“In the last days many residents of Valletta and Floriana have expressed their concerns over the many ships entering the Grand Harbour and contributing to emissions in the area,” he said, attaching a picture of a Gozo Fast Ferries vessel emitting smoke.
Approached for comment, Virtu Ferries marketing manager Julie Bezzina explains that “all diesel engines emit limited exhaust fumes, as do our vessels”.
“Black smoke is, more often than not, emitted as a result of a forced manoeuvre requiring sudden increased power, but is not a regular occurrence.”
She confirmed that all Virtu Ferries’ vessels’ engines are Class-approved and certified conforming to International Maritime Organisation (IMO) standards, and stressed that all are maintained to the highest standards.
Meanwhile, Ms Bezzina pointed out that pictures of competitors’ vessels emitting the black smoke have also been circulating online.
In fact, competitors Gozo Fast Ferry (above, on the Malta-Gozo line) and Ponte Ferries (below, on the Malta-Sicily route) have also been captured on camera emitting the fumes.
BusinessNow.mt has not verified the reason for these emissions with Gozo Fast Ferry or Ponte.
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