The Malta Independent 2 March 2021, Tuesday

Construction operators could face fines of up to €500,000 under proposed regulations

Neil Camilleri Saturday, 23 January 2021, 08:59 Last update: about 2 months ago

Operators found in breach of construction regulations can face a fine of up to half a million euro, according to a draft Bill that is currently being debated in Parliament.

Speaking in the House on Wednesday, Prime Minister Robert Abela pledged en end to “construction cowboys.” He was speaking during the debate on the Building and Construction Authority Act.

The proposed Bill, which was first published in November, will pave the way for the establishment of the Building and Construction Authority.

ADVERTISEMENT

During Wednesday’s debate, Abela tabled a technical report drafted after the March 2020 tragedy that claimed the life of Miriam Pace when her home collapsed.

The report, drafted in April 2020 and which was previously kept confidential, concluded that the process of cutting rock flush with third party property walls was akin to “playing Russian roulette with people’s lives.” It put forward a number of immediate and short-term recommendations to stop such tragedies from happening again.

 

Building and Construction Authority

According to the Draft Bill, the BCA will take over the functions previously assigned to the Building Regulation Board, the Building Regulation Office, the Building and Construction Agency and the Masons Board.

According to the proposed legislation, it will issue and enforce good practice guidelines and methodologies, provide a centralised office for the receipt and processing of complaints, promote research, training and public awareness, and monitor the performance, safety and quality of buildings and constructions in Malta, among others. It will also keep a register of service providers.

Its board shall be composed of a Chairperson, a warranted architect, lawyer and engineer all with a minimum of seven years’ experience, and seven persons “of known integrity and with knowledge and experience in the subjects of commerce, economy, industry, development planning, environment, social, cultural heritage and community affairs. The board will serve for three years. The government said it has asked the Opposition to appoint its representative on the board.

 

National Building Code

The draft Bill also proposes the establishment of a National Building Code for the Building and Construction Industry.

The code shall set out the minimum standards pertaining to the building and construction industry.

It will aim to cover different aspects of regulation and the “improvement and sustainable management” of the industry.

These are to include the structural integrity of sites and buildings, fire safety, site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture, demolition and excavation practices, dealing with toxic substances, resistance to the passage of sound, ventilation, sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency, drainage and waste disposal, heat producing appliances and fuel storage system, protection from falling, collision and impact, conservation of fuel and power, access to and use of buildings, glazing, electrical safety, security as well as materials and workmanship.

The code “shall be based on the principle that ensures the sustainable and safe use of buildings and their management with the purpose of achieving the building’s optimum use for its purpose, also taking account of the socio-economic factor and other national policies and plans.”

It will be reviewed from time to time, to “reflect the developments in the industry.”

 

Licensed operators

According to the proposed regulations, no person shall carry out any activities unless licensed to do so. A licence may be suspended, revoked or cancelled if the holder is found by the authority to be in breach of the Act due to dishonesty, misconduct or negligence, non-compliance with regulations, or if they are found guilty of an offence under the Act by a court.

 

Enforcement and penalties

The authority will also be able to serve enforcement notices where an activity is not compliant with the law.

Such notices may be served on the owners of the site, the occupiers, the contractors or any other person involved in the monitoring or the execution of the works.

If any provision of the Act is breached, the authority may impose an administrative penalty of not more than €500,000, and €5,000) each day in the case where the infringement persists.

The Minister may, after consultation with the Board, make regulations which prescribe that the breach of regulations made under this Act constitute a criminal offence.

This could lead to imprisonment of more than two years, a fine of of more than €200,000, or fines of more than €5,000 for each day during which the offence persists.

  • don't miss