An alarming video has shown how demolition works carried out in Birkirkara’s busy Psaila Street caused large stones to fall a height of at least three storeys, crashing down beyond supposedly protective hoarding.
The demolition was carried out by Excel Investments, owned by Gozitan developer Joseph Portelli, and the project architect is Maria Schembri Grima.
Schembri Grima chairs the Building and Construction Agency, which is responsible for safeguarding third parties and safe working practices.
Hours after Times of Malta published the footage, the government said that Schembri Grima had resigned as BCA chair "effective immediately."
The footage shows building blocks raining onto the ground, while further along the former GO Exchange building is more debris that has already pelted the road.
Dust fills the air as the excavator eats its way through, showing that protection is inadequate and the concrete perimeter wall blocking off the road is too low to safeguard the public, failing to close off the site as required.
Pictures of the demolition works shared on social media have elicited complaints from neighbours and motorists.
The site is at Psaila Street, corner with Fleur-de-Lys junction. A government school and houses are located across the road.
The BCA has since stopped the works, carried out last weekend, issuing a stop notice to its own chairperson, who has pledged to fix shortcomings, writing to the authority with an update of the method statement.
The agency’s CEO ordered all work to be 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”.
Most of the building had been flattened by the time the order was issued.
The application to demolish the building was green-lighted in November last year and clearance to start work was issued on February 1.
An application is pending for the building of 174 basement garages, 11 retail shops, 14 maisonettes/apartments at ground floor level, 96 apartments above and 17 penthouses with pools at a recessed fourth-floor level.
Residents had called the BCA offices over the weekend to complain that the way the building was being demolished exposed people to danger.
Once this phase is over, they are in for the excavation of two levels, the method statement for which has already been cleared by the BCA.
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