An architect involved with the Skanska consortium that built Mater Dei Hospital will not comment on the concrete scandal pending the conclusion of an inquiry.
Joe Cassar, whose architectural firm was part of the consortium in 1996, told Times of Malta that he wanted to see the conclusions of the inquiry led by retired judge Philip Sciberras.
“I will not comment before the inquiry report is out,” he said.
Health Minister Konrad Mizzi identified the early part of 1996 as the period when sub-grade concrete was used during construction of the hospital, which was supposed to be earthquake-proof.
An investigation found that concrete used in the building did not reach the grade required and more than €30 million in remedial works will have to be undertaken.
The scandal has raised questions about the suppliers of concrete, the people who put it in place and the architects who would have certified the works.
Mr Cassar’s company – Cassar, Grech & Ebejer – held a five per cent stake in the consortium, which included other Maltese firms. The majority shareholder in the venture was Swedish company Skanska, with a 55 per cent stake.
The Maltese companies in the consortium also acted as subcontractors, providing services and supplies.
Mr Cassar confirmed his company formed part of the consortium but insisted it had pulled out at a later stage.
We were definitely not part of the consortium when the 2009 agreement was signed
“We were definitely not part of the consortium when the 2009 agreement was signed,” he said, referring to the closure agreement that included a controversial waiver clause.
It is unclear whether the waiver exonerates Skanska and any other company involved in the building of the hospital from being sued for faulty workmanship.
The government is insisting the waiver complicates matters when it comes to suing the company over the defects.
The Opposition contends otherwise and insists the waiver is not a blanket exemption for possible fraudulent behaviour.
The inquiry was set up last year after preparatory work to build new wards over the Accident and Emergency Department found weak concrete structures that could not withstand further construction.
The government then appointed experts to study the rest of the hospital and, at the same time, ordered an inquiry to determine who was responsible for the poor concrete.
While the technical study is ready, the inquiry is still going on.
The Opposition has called on the government to make all documents and studies on the hospital concrete public.