Malta currently only has 10 construction site inspectors but that number will double by the end of the year, according to Planning Minister Aaron Farrugia.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday, Farrugia said that the number of inspectors had already risen slightly in recent weeks to 10, however this number would soon be doubled to 20.

Farrugia was announcing changes being rolled out in the construction industry as part of a wide-ranging reform announced earlier this year.

The reform, based on an expert report, was prompted by a fatal building collapse believed to have been caused by neighbouring excavation works. Four people, including two architects, face involuntary homicide charges over Miriam Pace’s death.

Since then, the government has announced that a new authority, the Building and Construction Authority, will be set up to monitor the construction sector. 

Video: Chris Sant Fournier

Hotline for residents' complaints

Farrugia on Saturday also said that the government will soon be appointing a pool of technical experts that will increase the level of scrutiny on construction and excavation method statements.

Furthermore, a new free phone number to be launched soon will allow residents to file complaints about construction works, he said.

Farrugia appealed to the Nationalist Party to participate in the national debate on the reforms and to nominate a member to the new authority’s board.

Developers and the BCA

On Friday, Times of Malta reported that the PN was endorsing a pitch made by the Malta Developers’ Association to have one of their members appointed on the board of the Building Construction Authority. 

PN construction spokesman Hermann Schiavone argued in parliament that the law establishing the BCA should allow the MDA and Kamra tal-Periti to each have a seat on its board. 

Asked about his position on this, Farrugia said the government was open to discuss the matter but at present it stood by the proposal put forward in the draft legislation being discussed in parliament.

That proposal is for the BCA to have three warranted professionals to the board, in the form of an architect, a lawyer and engineer, but no lobby group representatives.

Farrugia said the government was consulting with all players in the sector.

Meanwhile, parliamentary secretary for the construction sector Chris Agius said the government would soon be introducing an online register of licensed builders.

This, he said was an important step forward to bring up the level of the building industry.

“It is not fair on families near construction sites, to have to live in fear,” he said.

A register of licenced contractors was first announced in 2019 following a spate of construction site collapses. It was originally compiled by the MDA, with the Ombudsman subsequently ruling that the Building Regulations Office had broken the law in outsourcing that responsibility to the lobby group.

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