The Malta Independent 8 March 2021, Monday

Investigation into Miriam Pace death moving at a satisfactory pace – Abela

Shona Berger Wednesday, 20 January 2021, 19:03 Last update: about 3 months ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela said Wednesday that the investigations into Miriam Pace’s death are currently underway and moving at a satisfactory pace.

Abela was speaking in Parliament after the government presented a draft bill on the new construction regulations.

He referred to the tragedy that claimed the life of the mother of two when her Hamrun home collapsed into a construction site next door on 2 March last year.

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“This incident has devastated many people in this country, including myself,” Abela said.

He added that when the incident happened last year, “I spoke very clearly as I called on the competent authorities to take the necessary steps and make sure that full justice is served.”

Abela remarked that the process regarding this incident is currently underway moving at a satisfactory pace and it is the function of the court to give judgement on this particular case.

In addition, PM Abela presented a report proposing a number of reforms for the construction industry, as he delivered his speech.

He remarked that this Bill related to construction is another step in the right direction to raise industry standards.

Abela said that the government is determined to embark on a package of reforms and improve the way things are conducted.

“Failure to work in this sector has resulted in a number of negative outcomes, thus we must go through major changes as the moment to improve things is now,” he said.

He said that the main aim and function of this bill is to regulate this sector.

“Although there are many good things in this act, there are other things that need to be discussed further,” he said.

Abela explained that the bill will lead to a strong authority which will regulate the sector. The authority will absorb the functions currently assigned to a building board.

“We will consider being more compliant and develop a system which will identify who is responsible for his actions. The authority will be issuing guidelines and methodologies of good practice to improve construction building practices in Malta and ensure that they are observed.”

He added that, under this act, there will be centralized office to process any complaints, reports and information related to this sector.

“We want the authority to be close to the people, to be trusted by the people and to be there for them whenever they need,” Abela said.

In addition, the authority will focus on education and training complaints and it will monitor the quality of the building and construction that occurs in Malta. The authority will also keep a register of service providers.

“We are working on subsidiary legislation and policies, including those on the National Building code.

Abela added that, in the coming months, “we will continue to increase the number of officers within this sector and also launch a scheme that will give more reassurance to people.”

The Labour party has given a clear indication of where it wants to go with this bill as it is an important sector for people.

“When talking about this sector, we are talking about people’s homes, first time buyers as well as thousands of workers, so we must be careful. Above all we must work together for the sector in order to provide stability and sustainability”, Abela said.

He added that Maltese and Gozitans deserve to have peace of mind that standards in Malta are met.

Abela called on the Opposition to nominate a member from the Nationalist party to appoint its new part of the new authority, in order to include the opposition and make it part of this process.

 

Architects welcome new regulations

The Kamra tal-Periti hailed the introduction of the Bill as a “long-awaited milestone.”

It commended Parliamentary Secretary Chris Agius for this important step and pledged its full cooperation towards a successful implementation.

It particularly welcomed the fact that many of its proposals had been taken on board.

“Indeed, Hon. Agius echoed in his speech almost every principle contained in the Kamra’s proposal document: A Modern Building and Construction Regulation Framework for Malta.”

The Kamra said it shall be proposing additions to the Bill to emphasise the need for separation in the Act between building regulations, which govern design standards falling within the remit of architects and engineers, and construction regulations, which govern construction safety, methodology, and processes falling under the responsibility of contractors.

It said it looks forward to collaborating with Government in the coming days in order to address this with a view to ensuring that our country can be supported with the best possible legislation in the years ahead: this in the interest of public safety.

“It must be stressed, however, that the passing of this Bill represents the first of a number of milestones in the long journey the industry faces in modernising and reaching European standards. The success of this journey will depend on the quality of the regulations and subsidiary legislation that will follow this Act.”

 

MDA’s SNS to become reality

The Malta Developers Association welcomed the announcement that its Safer Neighbourhood Scheme will now become law and mandatory for all contractors.

MDA expressed its satisfaction that its scheme, launched only last July, “has resulted to be such a positive initiative that the government is now taking its ownership to make it compulsory.”

It also noted the Opposition’s positive reaction, recognising the important role of the industry.

“Since July, we have been insisting with the government that we need to raise the bar in our industry and that this scheme was necessary to become obligatory to all and not only to members of the MDA,” President Sandro Chetcuti said.

“We now note that the government has taken on board our proposal and will legislate to make the scheme obligatory. This is the way forward as it is in everyone’s interest that the industry is safer and sounder.” MDA Director General Marthese Portelli said that the MDA is currently also discussing more ideas to continue to introduce safer work practices aimed at reducing further the inconvenience caused to the general public.”

 

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