On the 2nd of August 2023, the Times of Malta published a letter from Mr Emanuel Galea of Victoria, highlighting a significant health concern on Gozo ferries. The issue pertained to several vehicles that kept their engines running throughout the ferry crossing, exposing both passengers outside these vehicles and the Gozo Channel crew to potentially toxic emissions in an area with limited ventilation. The letter further mentioned that when the Gozo Channel crew attempted to address the issue with the drivers of these vehicles, they were often ignored.
The Office of the Ombudsman, acknowledging the seriousness of the concerns raised by Mr Galea, initiated a direct engagement with the Gozo Channel. The objective was to gain a deeper understanding of the established policies and measures pertaining to such occurrences. Specifically, the Ombudsman’s Office sought clarity on the Gozo Channel’s Shipboard Operating Procedures and any other related guidelines that address the issue of vehicles idling during transit and passengers staying on the car deck.
Upon investigation, the Gozo Channel confirmed the existence of their Shipboard Operating Procedures, which explicitly prohibit passengers from remaining on the car deck during ferry transit. Additionally, they provided a Fleet Letter that instructs crew members to inform passengers about the inherent risks and policy violations related to staying inside their vehicles with engines running.
To further address the matter and ensure the safety of all aboard, the Gozo Channel disclosed an upcoming initiative: starting from the 18th of August, a police officer would be assigned to inspect ferries daily between 8.00 am and 6:00 pm. This step is expected to bolster enforcement, ensuring compliance with ferry regulations and promoting the health and safety of both passengers and crew.Media Releases