Update 2: Mellieħa: Should membership of the new construction regulator be mandatory?

‎Branko Stoilov‎

The Malta Chamber is calling on the authorities to address the wider problems associated with the construction industry by proposing that the government’s new construction scheme goes, ‘beyond the voluntary nature’.

The business body says that that it is imperative that the authorities ‘act fast’ on toughening up the newly created Considerate Construction Scheme in order to professionalise construction practices, ‘otherwise the launch of the Scheme would have been nothing more than a farce.’

Their comments follow on from those presented both by the government and the Malta Chamber of Architects, (Kamra Tal-Periti) in which they respond to the building collapse this morning in Mellieha. A 77 year old woman was rushed to hospital after she was rescued from the rubble of a three storey apartment building. The building was right next to a construction site. The police say that the woman suffered only light injuries.

While the government and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat have both said that measures need to be taken on the construction industry, KTP said that the incident today further demonstrates the chaos of the industry as well as the lacklustre efforts made so far to regulate it.

The Chamber agrees with KTP that the situation is worsening and action needs to be taken ‘immediately’

‘The situation is now dire, and no more time can be wasted. The ethical standards and quality of our construction industry need to be raised immediately and brought in line with those in other developed countries. Our islands and our citizens certainly deserve no less.’

Govt calls on construction industry to carry out responsibilities under law

The Government has responded to the building collapse in Mellieħa by calling on ‘the industry and professionals involved to carry all their responsibilities at law.’

They stress that the, ‘existing responsibilities at law are clear,’ insisting that they are still setting up the Malta Construction and Building authority which would update the law and oversee the building and construction industry.

‘The new legislation will streamline such responsibilities under one single code so that the remit of all the stakeholders involved in any construction or building project including architects, engineers, contractors, project managers and project owners, amongst others, reflects new developments in this industry. The updated legislation will also seek to review and define with clarity the third-party rights, including those of neighbours, within this aspect,’ the release states.

The release also says that they are concerned about the incident and are currently, ‘offering assistance to the victims,’ and ‘will continue to follow up and assist those involved in every possible way.’

This statement comes after a building collapse in Mellieħa this morning which resulted a 77 year old woman being rushed to hospital.

Kamra Tal-Periti (KTP) have responded to the incident saying that the incident should the construction industry is in chaos and the government must not delay in setting up its regulations and bodies to oversee them.

Mellieha building collapse shows construction industry is in chaos – KTP

Malta’s Chamber of Architects has said that the building collapse in Mellieha this morning, demonstrates that the construction industry is in chaos.

KTP is responding to the incident in which a three storey apartment building located next to a construction site collapsed in the early hours of this morning, sending an elderly woman to hospital.

Watch: Elderly woman rushed to hospital after building collapse in Mellieha

While the 77 year old’s condition is not yet known, KTP stresses that ‘this incident and similar ones in the past months are a direct symptom of the chaos that prevails in the construction industry.’

Efforts are feeble

The KTP outlines that while there have been a number of proposals which the government has put forward for the improvement of the construction industry, which KTP has approved of, many of these are either too slow to be implemented or lack the teeth or grit to hold contractors to account.

One of the proposals is the Building and Construction Authority. The Authority was promised in the Labour Party’s 2017 Election Manifesto outlining the creation of a regulator to reform the industry with its power and agency granted by government to oversee construction in Malta.

New construction authority on its way – Transport Minister

KTP say that while they support this move, it remains in the ‘early stages of formulation and is not envisaged to be established before the end of the year.’

The body also point to the Considerate Constructors Scheme which is aimed at creating a code of ethics based on the UK model. The CCS is understood to focus on improving the environment for workers, the environment and the quality of life for the public.  It’s creation has come about through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministries for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects and of Tourism, in conjunction with a variety of different authorities including the Building Industry Consultative Council (BICC), the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) and the Malta Developers Association (MDA).

New scheme reducing construction impact on public and environment gets go-ahead

KTP points out that the aforementioned effort is the latest proposal since the collapse of a home in Gwardamangia Hill Street, Pieta.  They state however that, ‘The efforts which are being made are feeble … The proposed Scheme appears to be merely intended to tie contractors to a code of ethics on a purely voluntary basis rather than strengthening the regulatory system and accountability of industry operators across the board, thus providing further loopholes in the system.’

Paperwork was in order

In the day following the collapse of the building directly next to a constructio site in Pieta, the Building Regulations Office said that there had been no reports against the contractor of the collapsed apartments in Pieta and their paperwork was order.

The Ministries for the Family and Transport, announced that the police would be investigating the incident.

Miguela Xuereb

The President of Kamra tal-Periti (KTP) told Newsbook.com.mt that they had been urging government to update current building  construction regulations because they are both ‘outdated’ and ‘inadequate’.

Current construction regulations ‘outdated’ and ‘inadequate’ – KTP President

Vella Lenicker explained that the incident does raise points about whether the incident was preventable, who is at fault and wider considerations within the construction industry.

Delay is not an option

KTP states that in light of a further incidence involving a construction accident, there is no time to delay to reforming the industry. For this reason, they say that they will be holding an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister next week on this.

‘The industry is in crisis. We have a complete lack of regulation of contractors, a complete lack of adequate competencies among the workforce, confusion about the various roles and responsibilities on construction sites, building regulations which date back to the 19th century, as well as a serious lack of enforcement. Unless we take immediate action, matters will only get worse.’