The Malta Independent 20 September 2020, Sunday

Chamber of Architects blasts PM for failing to honour commitment to changes in construction industry

Monday, 3 August 2020, 16:17 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers have blasted Prime Minister Robert Abela for failing to honour the government’s commitment to make major changes to the construction industry. 

They also reiterated their request for an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Robert Abela in order to discuss a revised timetable for the implementation of the Letter of Commitment. 

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In an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Robert Abela, the President of the Chamber remarked that “on the 2nd August 2019, Government presented the Chamber of Architects with a letter wherein it committed itself to bring about significant changes to the construction industry, however, exactly one year has gone by, yet none of these commitments have so much seen the light of day.” 

The letter comes four months after the tragic death of Miriam Pace, who tragically lost her life in a building collapse in Hamrun on the 2nd March 2020. 

The Chamber said that this “tragedy had encouraged the PM to establish a committee to directly advise him on the changes that are required to ensure that the construction industry would no longer be rife with unacceptable practices.” 

Although PM Abela expressed that he was “angry and hurt” by the tragedy that had struck the Pace family, and that “progress cannot be achieved at this price, at the cost of human life,” nothing has changed. 

In the letter the Chamber expressed their anger regarding the failures within the construction industry which they have to live with and experience on a daily basis. 

“These include the complete lack of regulation of contractors, the vacuum of a proper building and construction regulatory framework, and the fragmentation of regulatory bodies that continues to fuel confusion and lack of consistency.” 

They added that “all too often we observe issues of site safety, the problem of unregulated workforces including the exploitation of foreign nationals, and an overall sense of slackness which forces us to operate in an industry which is grossly underregulated, with a severe lack of appropriately qualities operatives on sites, and one which is far from being comparable to our European counterparts that it is, to say the least, embarrassing.” 

For many years the Chamber has been “calling for a comprehensive overhaul of the industry since as far back as 2007” because these changes are needed in order to prevent any tragedies from happening, tragedies which could be avoided. 

The Chamber set up a committee which worked in delivering a proposal for A Modern Building and Construction Regulation Framework for Malta that was published for consultation in May 2019. 

The final version was then published on the 6th June 2020, after consulting with industry stakeholders. 

The Chamber remarked that although they tried their utmost to schedule a meeting either with the Prime Minister or with a Member within the Cabinet to present their proposals regarding the matter, “to date, despite several reminders, we have not so much as received an acknowledgment of our request from your office.” 

“This laissez-faire attitude is not only destroying our cultural identity and our environment but is resulting in loss of life and the social upheaval of local communities.”

 

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