Kamra Tal-Pertiti has said that yesterday’s statements from the Infrastructure Minister on amendments to the construction Legal Notice leave them with many questions which need answers.
While the Chamber state that they have not yet received a copy of the amendments, from their understanding of Minister Borg’s statements and responses in Parliament, they believe that there are still many unanswered questions.
For this reason, they have published what they call a ‘non-exhaustive’ list of 27 ‘initial queries’ ahead of receiving a copy of the Legal Notice.
These questions range from seeking clarifications over the amendment’s requirements, to the division and responsibility of the Perit and the Site Technical Officer to the registration, licensing and liabilities of other roles in the construction industry. KTP urges the Minister to meet them to discuss these.
Amendments to be enforced tomorrow
The questions follow on the from the Minister’s announcement of the amendments to the Legal Notice on excavations and demolitions which are set to come into effect today.
The amendments come in the wake of a number of recent building collapses in Pieta and Mellieha, which were linked to adjacent excavations.
The government’s initial response had been to temporarily suspend all excavation and demolition works followed by a five-day consultation to investigate interim measures to reform this aspect of construction.
Responses to the proposed amendments had been largely critical with KTP expressing concerns over their practicalities and lack of licensing for other roles in the industry, while others were concerned about them being used a sign of the Government being seen to do something.
These are the questions which have been sent to Minister Borg:
- Kindly confirm that the LN applies to demolition, excavation and construction works, and whether this include all works currently ongoing in Malta;
- Kindly forward a copy of the Schedules which we understand contain a number of technical details for our review;
- Kindly confirm that all works have to stop on Tuesday 25th June 2019 until all projects are in line with the Legal Notice;
- Kindly confirm that once the projects are in line with the Legal Notice, a further two weeks must pass before works can re-commence in view of the obligations for the public to be able to review the submitted documentation;
- Kindly confirm whether method statements and condition reports that have already been submitted for ongoing works are going to be uploaded onto Eapps, and when?
- The Ministerial Statement seems to infer that the Site Technical Officer (STO) can stop the works – does this mean that the perit in charge cannot order the suspension of the works? Is this reasonable?
- What is meant by “kull meta qed jittiehdu decizjonijiet”? Decisions are not only taken on site. How is this going to be monitored and enforced? Who is taking these decisions? Why was our suggestion of maintaining a site log not taken on board?
- If all periti are on the warrant list, what additional approval is required? On what basis can approval be granted or withheld?
- In light of the obligations arising out of the Civil Code vis a vis the perit and the contractor – what responsibility does the contractor’s perit have? Can you confirm that the contractor remains liable with the perit in charge of the project for 15 years, and that the STO carries none of this responsibility and liability?
- The Statement indicates that the perit in charge of the project is to prepare a method statement, the STO is to enforce it, and the contractor is to follow it. Isn’t the STO part of the contractor’s setup? Aren’t they one and the same in terms of the Civil Code?
- Has the register of contractors been published? And if not, how is the owner’s obligation to employ competent persons going to be safeguarded without such a register and classification?
- With regard to projects that were exempt on the date of commencement of such works, do the rules now apply and are therefore not exempt? Even if these are nearly ready?
- Can the perit of the project not speak directly to the contractor?
- This Legal Notice does not seem to differentiate between small, medium and large projects – are there different provisions depending on scale that we are not aware of?
- Does this LN mean that there are no contractors and builders that are able to understand the perit’s instructions?
- What is the position of periti employed or commissioned under a design & build scenario?
- What is the position of periti employed in the public sector, where the contractors are outsourced to the private sector?
- Will all contractors be obliged to take a Contractors All Risk Insurance and will this also cover the STO? Has this been discussed with the insurance companies?
- In the case of periti already employed by contractors but not for a role which is equivalent to that of the STO. What protection will the law give them to not be held responsible for the STO’s duties if this is not in their contract of employment?
- The penalties for not following the method statement will be increased. Who will incur the penalty? The contractor or the STO?
- The geotechnical design report outlined in the draft was not mentioned in your statement. Has this requirement been scrapped?
- Do all commencement notices have to be updated and resubmitted?
- Do current house insurance policies cover building collapses?
- How are the third parties going to be notified that the method statement and condition report have been uploaded onto eapps?
- Has the impact that these new requirements will have on properties already sold on plan been studied?
- In the case of projects were a site manager who is competent, but is not a perit, is already appointed and has a contract with the developer, will they be out of a job as of Tuesday 25th June 2019? Can a law override existing contractual agreements?
- Is the BRO going to stop all sites that are not compliant with any one of the provisions of the Legal Notice on Tuesday 24th June 2019?
Here is the legal document outlining the amendments of BUILDING REGULATION ACT (CAP. 513) Avoidance Of Damage To Third Party Property Regulations, 2019
Will to change essential – Chamber of Commerce
The Malta Chamber of Commerce has said that we will only be able to see results in construction industry if stakeholders are willing to change. This is the position that the Chamber has taken following the publication of the draft Regulations on Excavation and Construction Practices, which have now been approved by Government.
With a number of construction accidents happening in the past few months in Mellieha and Pieta’, the Chamber has discussed what they believe the amendments should include “high standards in design, engineering and also management and construction.”
The Chamber would like to speed up the process of change; however, keeping in mind that Quality and Safety Targets are still met.
New changes to demolition and excavation regulations will come into effect from today, Infrastructure Minister Dr. Ian Borg told the media yesterday. The reforms will cover all construction sites once the new Legal Notice is published and will include the creation of a new role called a site technical officer.
The Chamber of Commerce concluded by adding how it had already made a positive impact in the progress of both new industries and in changing existing ones.