In August 2023, a pressing concern was brought to light regarding the health risks associated with vehicle idling on Gozo ferries. This issue, initially highlighted by a concerned passenger, prompted an investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman, leading to a set of recommendations aimed at enhancing passenger safety and ensuring compliance with established regulations.
In response to concerns raised about vehicle idling on Gozo ferries, steps have been taken to enhance safety and ensure adherence to established regulations. Following an investigation and subsequent recommendations by the Office of the Ombudsman, Gozo Channel has implemented a series of measures aimed at mitigating the health risks associated with this issue.
Implementation of Safety Measures:
No access to enclosed decks: In alignment with Gozo Channel’s Shipboard Operating Procedures, passengers are now prohibited from accessing enclosed decks while the vessel is in motion. This policy is enforced by the vessel’s master or a designated officer, ensuring that all passengers are aware of and comply with this rule.
Crew responsibilities: The crew members are tasked with ensuring that no passengers remain in their vehicles once the vessel is ready to depart. This involves a thorough check of the vehicle deck and directing passengers to the upper decks. Compliance is further ensured through PA system announcements informing passengers of the necessity to vacate the car deck.
Informational monitors at marshalling areas: Monitors are being installed at Cirkewwa and Mgarr to improve communication and awareness. These displays will continuously remind passengers of the policy against remaining in their vehicles and the requirement to turn off car alarms during the crossing.
Public awareness campaign: A press release has been issued to inform the public about the dangers of staying in the vehicle deck during crossings, emphasising the potential risks in emergency situations, such as a vehicle fire.
The Office of the Ombudsman welcomes the implementation of these recommendations, which is a critical step in ensuring a safer travel environment for all passengers and crew aboard the Gozo ferries.