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NEWS | Sunday, 15 June 2008

€82,000 for Armier squatters' new electricity supply

James Debono

A reliable supply of electricity costing the country €82,000 is the latest gift to the Armier squatter community.
A new substation will be built by Enemalta almost exclusively for the boathouse community in Armier, who took up public land illegally by erecting their own summer boathouses.
Enemalta already supplies 110 illegal boathouses in Armier with electricity, and is now planning to construct an electricity substation situated right next to the illegal shantytown.
The boathouse squatters have for years complained about the poor and unreliable electricity supply and even claim the poor supply poses a health hazard – to the extent that a woman was recently electrocuted.

The squatters had raised their case for a reliable supply in a meeting with minister Austin Gatt in November 2005.
According to the Armier boathouse owners’ newsletter, the minister simply told them that they were knocking on the wrong door and that they should talk to Enemalta directly.
A month later the Armier squatters met an Enemalta official who told them that the only way to increase the voltage in Armier was through the construction of a new substation to replace the 2,000-metre long overhead lines.
Just three months before the election in November 2007, Enemalta applied to construct a substation at it-Torri l-Ahmar, a few metres away from the illegal boathouses.
A spokesperson for the Ministry for Infrastructure, Transport and Communications said the new substation is meant to “benefit all registered consumers in the area” and is “not specifically connected to the provision of supply to boathouses.”
But MaltaToday can confirm that the squatters’ shantytown is the only sizeable settlement in the area. Last month Enemalta confirmed that 110 boathouses in Armier are registered for electricity.
The ministry claims the substation is needed to avoid drops in voltage in the current supply that runs through long, low-voltage overhead lines.
The ministry claimed that since the substation is still at the preliminary design stage, detailed cost estimates have not yet been worked out. “But typically, such a substation is budgeted at €82,000,” the government spokesperson added.


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