Failure to assume responsibility ‘cannot be tolerated anymore’

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

People’s failure to assume responsibility in incidents such as yesterday’s tragedy can no longer be tolerated, Prime Minister Robert Abela said in parliament.

Abela was speaking during a special parliamentary sitting dedicated to Miriam Pace, who was killed when her Ħamrun home collapsed as a result of adjacent construction works.

Noting that he personally knew the victim’s family, he said that while he spoke with a sense of sadness, it was useless to just do so when people were asking why the tragedy occurred; solutions needed to be given.

He noted that three similar incidents had occurred in recent months, but each time, no one assumed responsibility, and no one faced criminal proceedings.

“I promise that I will not tolerate this situation, I will not tolerate this sense of impunity.”

Though he stressed that he would not interfere with investigations, Abela insisted that any foot-dragging would not be tolerated.

Government stepped in immediately, ‘though we are not to blame’

Noting that six people had already been arrested and that alternative accommodation had been offered to the affected family, Abela emphasised that the government intervened immediately, “though we are not to blame” for the incident. However, he added that this alone meant nothing for those who lost a home and a loved one.

Abela pledged to do everything possible to avoid a repeat of yesterday’s tragedy, and criticised the fact that the architect certifying the development project responsible for the collapse had a direct interest in it.

The Prime Minister also insisted that people caught in such situations should not have to seek legal redress themselves, at their expense, just because someone had chosen to develop a neighbouring plot of land.

“We must create mechanisms to achieve balance between responsible, sustainable development and people’s sacrosanct right to live peacefully in their own homes,” he said.

Construction industry must regulate itself

The Prime Minister repeatedly emphasised that he was not seeking to hinder the construction industry, stating that the right to embark on development projects “will not be denied to anyone, as long as the necessary permits have been issued,” though he emphasised that this could not come at the expense of neighbouring families.

He argued that the construction industry needed to ensure that it acted responsibly and followed rules and regulations, threatening to step up enforcement levels even further if it did not.

He also insisted that those responsible for such incidents needed to receive punishments worthy of the crime, not lenient sentences which would effectively encourage them to continue acting with impunity.