A Valletta housing block that was left with a gaping hole and a pile of rubble at the bottom of its stairwell has been cleared and the hole secured after the office of the ombudsman intervened in the matter.

Earlier this month, Times of Malta spoke to residents of the social housing block who said the site had been left with an unsecured lift shaft and an uncovered pile of rubble for around a year, with no end to the predicament in sight.

The situation was raising safety concerns, particularly for the elderly people and young children who were among the four families living in the block.

The Housing Authority had told Times of Malta plans to install a lift in the building had ran into difficulty when workers could not find the foundations of the building and subsequent testing had to be carried out. It did not reply to questions as to why the rubble had been left on the building’s landing and why the hole had not been properly secured.

The lift shaft was covered and a safety fence was put securely around its perimeter.The lift shaft was covered and a safety fence was put securely around its perimeter.

Following the publication of the story, the office of the ombudsman contacted the Housing Authority directly.

“The Housing Authority informed us that they faced unforeseen challenges in locating the rock face during the excavation process for the lift installation, resulting in a change of methodology and consequent delays,” a spokesperson for the office of the ombudsman said.

“They have now completed the core test, which identified the rock face at a depth of five meters and have obtained quotes for the hand excavation work and are now finalising the quotes, with work expected to resume in the coming days.”

Shortly after this, the rubble was cleared from the site, bar a few stones workers require to continue with work, and the pit was covered and a safety fence put securely around its perimeter.

The spokesperson said the ombudsman’s office had been told by the Housing Authority that it had conducted an onsite visit, spoke to residents, and is taking the necessary steps to ensure their safety and mitigate the inconvenience caused by the ongoing construction works.

“We will continue to closely monitor the situation and work with the Housing Authority to ensure a timely resolution to the issue,” the spokesperson said.

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