Updated 8.45pm - Added video
Methods being used in the demolition of the Fortina Hotel, in Sliema, with debris reportedly being dumped from a height of eight storeys, have forced an investigation into possible breaches of construction practices.
A video sent to the Times of Malta revealed the extent of the dust pollution caused by the demolition works, with rubble piling down the side of the soon-to-be-demolished hotel and throwing up massive dust clouds. The Planning Authority said the video was shot before it enforced mitigation measures.
The demolition work also angered residents whose cars and property were covered in white dust.
Several residents complained to the Times of Malta that work was “shoddy” and that they could barely open a window with all the dust there was, especially on windy days.
“I had the helper yesterday morning and everywhere is already covered in a thin layer of dust. We cannot continue living in this jungle where people just don’t give a hoot about anyone around them,” one angry resident told the Times of Malta.
Work began recently on the demolition of the four-star hotel and the spa wing of the adjacent five-star resort and build a 15-storey block of 109 apartments, as well as a ground-floor shopping mall and three levels of underground parking.
The plans also propose to raise the height of the existing hotel tower to 23 storeys and build a new 13-floor hotel block in place of the spa wing.
Around 2,500 square metres of open public space will be created at the back of the residential block and maintained by the hotel.
When contacted, the Planning Authority said it was monitoring the site.
“While PA officers have not witnessed any debris being thrown from the highest floor of the hotel, instructions have been issued to avoid this practice and to use internal shafts which would limit excessive dust generation. It has also given orders for appropriate dust misting systems to be procured and implemented on site,” a spokesman said.
He added that the contractor “started implementing these measures and the authority will be closely monitoring their effectiveness.”
The spokesman said that construction management practices and mitigation measures are matters which are also investigated and enforced by the Building Regulations Office (BRO).
“The authority is informed that this case has also been brought to the BRO’s attention and that an independent investigation is under way.”
When contacted, company director Edward Zammit Tabona said the contractor was taking “all possible measures to mitigate any inconvenience”. While he apologised for any inconvenience residents were still suffering, he said reports that debris was being thrown from the top floor were “absolutely not true”.
“This is the demolition of a hotel we’re talking about. Some debris could have fallen down but we are lowering the debris through internal shafts and constantly spraying water to limit the dust,” he said.
Malta Developers Association president Sandro Chetcuti said the association had taken immediate action when it received complaints from residents.