The Building and Construction Agency stopped work on the demolition of the site of the Go Exchange building in Birkirkara over the weekend, after large stones spilled onto the street, exposing third parties.

The authority’s chairperson, Maria Schembri Grima, is the architect of the Excel Investments project.

Excel Investments is owned by Gozitan developer Joseph Portelli. The applicant is his business partner Mark Agius.

In a stop notice issued by the authority’s CEO, the BCA ordered that all work is stopped with immediate effect since the demolition was not in line with the method statement that had been filed and approved and was “exposing third parties to danger”.

The application to demolish the building was green-lighted in November last year and clearance to start work was issued on February 1.

There is a separate application, which is still pending, for the excavation of two levels for basement garages, 174 in all, 11 retail shops and 14 maisonettes/apartments at ground floor level, 96 apartments from first to third floor level and 17 penthouses with pools at recessed fourth floor level.

The application includes plans for a public, pedestrianised piazza and a new access from Psaila Street for ambulances and fire vehicles, which will split the site and enable development around it.

Residents called the BCA offices over the weekend to complain that the way the building was being demolished exposed people to danger. Large stones were falling into the street and the perimeter wall was not closing off the site as had been promised.

The risky demolition work was also flagged by independent candidate Arnold Cassola as well as activist and Times of Malta columnist Wayne Flask. 

Grima pledges to fix shortcomings 

Following the order to stop all work, Grima on Monday wrote to the authority with an update to the works method statement, promising to place the hoarding back in place.

“All of the security and site establishment, personnel, storage and handling, dust and debris discussions in the original method statement are still valid and still stand. In addition to the above, the identification of the risks involved discussed in the original method statement still holds,” she wrote.

She said the demolition material will be transferred into trucks with an excavator equipped with a bucket and that water will be sprayed through a water bowser to contain and mitigate any dust resulting from the demolition works.

She also said that after this phase is finalised, the excavation method statement already cleared by the BCA will come into force.

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