The Malta Independent 22 July 2024, Monday
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Contractor ignored architect's orders, KTP investigation on Birkirkara incident finds

Friday, 22 September 2023, 09:34 Last update: about 11 months ago

The Chamber of Architects has exonerated architect Maria Schembri Grima of any responsibility linked with the dangerous demolition of the former Go Exchange in Birkirkara.

An investigation carried out by the chamber found that the contractor responsible for those demolition works, Polidano Bros Ltd, ignored the architect's orders and failed to follow the project's demolition method statement, the KTP said in a statement Friday. 

In February, the chamber had announced the opening of an investigation into the incident that occurred in the site located in Psaila Street Birkirkara formerly housing the GO Exchange buildings to establish whether there any potential breaches by any of the periti involved in the project has occurred.

The investigation was launched after a showed huge bricks falling onto the road, near homes and a school, as part of demolition works for the project. 

The works had been immediately stopped by the Building and Construction Agency, whose chairperson at the time, Maria Schembri Grima, was also the architect of the project, being led by Excel Investments project.

Excel Investments is owned by Gozitan developer Joseph Portelli. The applicant is his business partner Mark Agius. The works contractor was Polidano (Ċaqnu) and the site technical officer (STO) was David Muscat.

The Council had stated at the time that it was "pertinent to underscore that the opening of an investigation does not imply any wrongdoing and consists in a fact-finding exercise to establish whether any professional malpractice did indeed occur. If the Council determines that there is a potential breach, the perit or periti involved will be afforded the right to exculpate themselves as provided for in the Periti Act.”

The Kamra tal-Periti today published the conclusions of its investigation:

1.   The demolition method statement did not instruct the contractor to execute the works as illustrated in the videos widely reported in the media;

2.   The contractor failed to follow the demolition method statement;

3.   The contractor failed to adhere with the instruction given on site by the STO on Thursday 9th February 2023 in agreement with the perit-in-charge to clear the site from demolition debris to allow the setting up of a mobile crane within the confines of the site before any further demolition works were carried out. This instruction was issued since discussions were underway between the perit-in-charge, the STO and the contractor on modifications to the method statement requiring the use of a mobile crane;

4.   The contractor appears to have decided to hastily proceed with the demolition works over the weekend as he sought fit in defiance of the instructions given by the STO instead of granting the time to the periti involved in the project to finalise the amended method statement;

5.   Moreover, the site manager failed to enforce the provisions of S.L.623.08.

The Council said it has closed its investigation against the periti involved since no breaches of the Periti Act were established. The chamber said it regretted that the Building and Construction Authority did not cooperate with its investigations.

 

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