Planning Commissioner calls for more drastic measures

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Commissioner for Environment and Planning, Architect Alan Saliba has published a document calling for more drastic measures in the construction industry.

Following the latest building collapse which claimed the life of 54-year-old Miriam Pace, Saliba who had already made various recommendations to the authorities with the main aim of voicing the citizens’ concerns and restoring safety in the industry, has made fresh recommendations.

The document which was published on Friday has been sent to Prime Minister Robert Abela and the committee which was tasked with the review of building rules and practices.

In a statement, the Office of the Ombudsman said that in June various recommendations were made however the fatal building collapse that happened a few weeks ago prompted the Commissioner to refresh these recommendations and call for more drastic measures.

The recommendations being put forward by the Commissioner for Planning are:

  • Immediate setting up of the Building Construction Authority fully equipped with resources in proportion with the size of the Construction Industry
  • Deterrents through criminal procedures, fines and direct actions to restore discipline in the industry
  • Licensing and accredited courses for all suppliers and operators in the field supplemented by adequate building codes
  • Imposition on developers to employ only licensed operators under a strict subcontracting regime
  • Enforcement action on issues related to the BCA, OHSA, and the Planning Authority mustered under the roof of the Ministry for Law Enforcement
  • Authority to recognise and give priority to neighbours’ architect advice
  • Authority to assist neighbours with professional and legal advice
  • Shifting construction related responsibilities from the Planning Authority to the Building Construction Authority thus also abetting the same planning process
  • Consider changing certain planning policies that are instigating added risks in construction sites

Between 1996 and 2004, there were three building collapses claiming three lives. A warehouse collapsed in Menqa Marsa in February 1996. A townhouse collapsed onto a site being developed leaving one fatality on Cathedral Street Sliema in April 2000 and a block of flats with underlying garage collapsed onto site being developed and onto the street killing two on Ramon Perellos Street in St Paul’s Bay in June 2004.

From April 2018 to date, there have been seven cases of building collapses with the latest incident claiming Mrs Pace’s life.

The full document may be found here.