Prime Minister Joseph Muscat laid out his plan to regulate Malta’s construction industry, pledging a clampdown on careless architects and contractors who think they are above the law.
Interviewed on One Radio today, Muscat defended his decision to suspend excavation and demolition works in light of recent building collapses as “a clear and obvious decision”.
The Prime Minister said he will formally propose a raft of changes to the law tomorrow with the intention of closing off loopholes and clarifying the responsibility of architects, site managers and contractors.
“The government cannot be present as a watchdog on every construction site,” he said. “The reason warrants are handed out is because they come with responsibilities. Asking the government to monitor everything [in the construction industry] is like asking us to monitor every surgery.”
“The architect is responsible for drafting a method statement, the contractor is responsible for following the method statement and the site manager who oversees the day-to-day operations.”
“A number of architects are carrying out method statements without even going on site and then sending the plans via WhatsApp. This is unacceptable.”
“Then there are those contractors who don’t care and think they are above the law. Some responsible contractors warned me that my decision to suspend excavation and demolition works will cost them two or three weeks of work and cost Malta millions. However, I told the Malta Developers’ Association during last week’s meeting to speak to those contractors who are tarnishing their name. I won’t sacrifice someone’s life for them.”
The new law will ensure that the architect or site manager will have to be present on site when crucial decisions are taken and their presence will have to be documented.
As for site managers, the law will ensure that they must have the necessary qualifications or the declared trust of the architect to work in such a job.
Geological surveys, which are currently only obligatory when digging beyond three meters, will become mandatory.
Meanwhile, fines for contractors who ignore the method statement will increase from €500 to €10,000, while fines for contractors who ignore notifications to stop working will increase from €1,200 to €50,000.