Grounded ship re-floated

The contractor appointed to salvage the vessel Hephaestus succeeded in refloating the vessel will be towing it to a shipyard in Marsa.  The area in Qawra, which had been declared as a no-go zone, both on land and at sea, to safeguard public safety, will be declared accessible, once all equipment is cleared and it is ascertained that there is no impending danger.

The contractor, between bouts of bad weather and long hours of work, had closed off all the breaches in the hull so that the ship could be refloated. Early this morning, Personnel rigged one side of the ship with chains and wire ropes to two powerful tug boats.  The boats pulled away in sync, under the watchful eye of experienced salvage masters, Transport Malta, ERA , Police and Civil Protection Department personnel.  After some moments of tension, the vessel started parting ways with the rocks of the coast she had rested on for the past months.  

For a moment, it seemed as if the ship would only budge a few centimetres and get stuck once more but the technically well-coordinated tug boats changed the angle slightly and tucked the vessel back into the water with a considerable splash.  The vessel dipped slightly down and quickly bobbed back up, demonstrating that the patchwork on its hull did its duty.

The personnel changed the rigging in accordance with the approved towing arrangement plan so that the tug boats could manouver the vessel back to the harbour.   The Hephaestus is now undertaking what will probably be her last voyage, to the contractor’s ship yard in Marsa. 

Last week the contractor had made another attempt, however a chain that was connected to the towing wire failed and snapped under the immense tension and the tremendous weight of  the craft. The contractor deployed further heavy duty equipment to be able to make the second attempt this morning.

The vessel, a 60-metre tanker registered in Togo, had grounded in Qawra, during a fierce storm on the 10th of February. The crew had thankfully managed to return to shore safely after abandoning the vessel.  The Hephaestus was not carrying any heavy fuel oil and thus it posed no real risk of pollution.  However, the salvage contractor had to deploy a boom to contain a minor diesel sheen after water reached a breach in the hull and a small amount of old diesel seeped out.  The sheen remained on the water surface and evaporated.  The salvage contractor removed all fuels from the ship, as soon as the weather stabilised enough to allow the operation.

Following long negotiations by Transport Malta,  the Protection and Indemnity Insurance of the vessel assumed the responsability to salvage the vessel.  The insurance will pay for the salvage costs.

Grant for electric vehicles extended

The government continues working towards Electromobility – another €0.5 million allocated for the scheme on the Purchase of Electric Vehicles

The Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects announces the extension of the grant scheme on environmentally friendly vehicles by another €0.5 million. The aim of the scheme is to improve air quality levels by reducing old motor vehicles from our roads and by promoting the purchase of battery electric vehicles and battery electric quadricycles.

scrap yard

Initially, the scheme which was launched earlier on this year through Transport Malta had an allocation of €0.5 million, and between January and July 2018 all applications submitted for the grant were accommodated, to the extent that 98 additional electric vehicles were registered on Maltese roads.

Commenting on this extended benefit, Minister Ian Borg said, “We are committed to deliver a transport sector which befits our country and its people. Our work consists not only of improved infrastructural design and investment in public transportation, but also in incentivising the people of Malta and Gozo to invest in cleaner alternatives for their private transportation needs. We understand that certain circumstances require the use of a private vehicle, but we feel it is our duty as a Government and as a country to ensure that these circumstances have the least negative impact possible on our environment.”

The Minister pointed out that as from this year, the Government has also removed the registration tax for all new and used electric vehicles including motorcycles, battery driven electric mopeds, hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and range extender electric vehicles used by an individual, private and commercial companies, NGOs, local councils and Government departments, while the Annual Circulation Licence fee has been waived off for the first five years for these same vehicles.

The extended scheme is composed of a range of benefits with their own sets of conditions. Should an eligible applicant not scrap another vehicle, they would benefit from €2,500 when registering a new or used Battery Electric quadricycle, €4,000 upon registering an imported second-hand Battery Electric/Plug-in Hybrid M1 and N1 vehicle not older than 36 months, with not more than 15,000 km on the odometer, and €6,000 upon registering a new Battery Electric/Plug-in Hybrid M1 and N1 vehicle. Should eligible parties register a new Battery Electric/Plug-in Hybrid M1 and N1 vehicle when another vehicle with an internal combustion engine having at least 10 years from the year of its manufacture is de-registered and scrapped at an authorised destruction facility, they would benefit from €7,000. Finally, Government is giving up to €200,000 for commercial companies to change their vehicle fleet from ICE to EV. Terms and conditions apply in all cases. The grant is applicable to private car owners, registered NGOs, the business community and local councils.

Applications are on a first come first served basis. Companies that have already benefited from last year’s scheme on electric vehicles are eligible to benefit again from this scheme if they are in line with state aid regulations. Application forms for such schemes can be collected from the Vehicle Licensing Unit within Transport Malta, A3 Towers, Paola or from http://www.transport.gov.mt/land-transport.

Air links between Malta and Japan on the horizon

Transport Malta and the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau met in Tokyo earlier this week to discuss the necessary regulatory framework which will permit the establishment of air transport links between both countries.

Transport Malta was part of the trade mission to Japan, led by the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.  Captain Charles Pace, the Director General for Civil Aviation, met with representatives of Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau, Japanese airlines and a number of stakeholders within the aviation industry, with the goal to strengthen the relations between the aviation sectors of both countries.

Malta will continue to build on the progress made, in these meetings, to establish an air services agreement between the two countries.  Both delegations reached a common understanding on the routes to be operated by the airlines, capacity entitlements, code-sharing, aviation safety, security and other operational arrangements.

The meetings marked an important milestone for Malta in its quest for further international cooperation in the field of aviation.

The air travel industry in Japan, supports more than one million jobs and generates more than €70 billion in GDP.  Japan is currently undergoing a capacity expansion policy with the aim to accommodate an extra 39,000 international flight movements by the year 2020.

Operators engage in discussions with Transport Malta’s Civil Aviation Directorate to increase their fleet or to establish themselves as new operators within our jurisdiction. Others seek to expand their areas of operation and increase their portfolio of licences. Only last month, TM registered the first operational A380, the largest passenger aircraft in operation, under the Maltese Flag.

Malta is developing into an aviation hub, with a strong yet flexible legal framework and thus positioning itself as an attractive jurisdiction for aircraft registration. New legislation has breathed new life into Malta’s aviation industry and the country has been steadily building up a cluster of aviation services including maintenance, aircraft management, cargo operations, training, asset financing and slowly but surely, elements of the leasing sector.