Tista' taqra bil- Malti.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had just announced that all demolishing and excavation permits have been suspended until further notice.
Muscat said this during a meeting at the Auberge de Castille on Thursday afternoon. Malta Developers’ Association president Sandro Chetchuti, Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers president Simone Vella Lenicker, Perit Robert Musumeci as well as others were also in attendance.
The media was asked to wait outside until the meeting was over.
MDA expresses shock
The Malta Developers Association (MDA) has declared its shock at the news that a building next to yet another construction site, this time in Ħamrun has partly collapased. From his end, the Commissioner for Environment and Planning, Perit Alan Saliba had also lodged his concerns to the Prime Minister urging action on the matter.
More meetings and consultation in the coming days
After the discussion between the Government and stakeholders, the media were allowed to return to the meeting. From there, the Prime Minister reiterated the earlier decision taken on the suspension of evacuation and demolition.
Muscat described the meeting was productive, reaffirming that there will be a subsequent meeting in the coming days.
Public Consultation published in 5 days
The Prime Minister announced that the Public Consultation Document will be opened next Monday which will outline the new rules, but that the consultation period would only be open for five days.
He explained that the purpose of the meetings would not to be continue discussing poor regulations but instead to find a solution that understands the positions put forward.
Following the five day consultation, the cabinet will approve the draft the following week so that the regulations come into force within a fortnight following.
‘It might be dangerous to stop suddenly’
Following the meeting with stakeholders, Muscat explained that he was concerned about the points put forward my architects that there were some cases where stopping or suspending excavation abruptly could actually be dangerous.
The Prime Minister explained that in light of this, developers would need to report to the competent authority, in this case the Building Regulation Office, in order to seek permission to continue. He said this would be the exception not the rule.
Rules to be proposed…
Muscat explained that the law already indicates who shoulders responsibility. He said that the architect produces the ‘method statement’ which the site manager then follows. The developer is obligated to follow the instructions of the architect. However, in spite of this, accidents were still happening.
New laws would therefore include the architect or site manager obligated to sign a document showing their attendance as well being present for key decisions.
He added that the law will also seek to make geological and geotechnical studies a rule only if the excavation is deeper than 3m, stressing that with the new rules, any excavation will need these kinds of studies.
In addition to new rules and laws, there would also be an increase in the amount paid in fines. He explained that currently, offenders are liable to a maximum of € 500, this will rise to € 10,000. It will be also proposed that there will be increases on fine for those who have an enforcement notice but continue the work. This would hit a maximum of € 50,000.
A similar incident happened earlier in the year in which a building collapsed next to a construction site.
Only a few days ago a three storey building collapsed in Mellieha. A 77 year old woman was rescued from the rubble by the CPD.
At the end of last month, the Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg was asked about the progress of the new building and construction industry regulator. He told Opposition MP Karol Aquilina that the progress was still ongoing.