Current Affairs
Construction works may continue as long as contractors abide by new regulations

Almost one week after excavation and demolition works were halted, contractors can recommence work at their sites again now that they are supposed to be regulated by a new legal notice. Although the new regulations came into effect on Tuesday, the operators. from architects to developers, still have questions which are have not yet been answered.

Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg said that this is the first step, because other reforms are needed in the industry.

The equipment at construction sites started working again after a short pause of less than one week, where works were suspended while new regulations on excavation and demolition were drawn up. According to Minister Borg, the works can start once the contractors are in conformity with the new regulations.

“When you comply with these regulations, then the works may continue,” he pointed out.

However, the obligations stipulated in the new regulations have led to a lot of questions and objections. It appears that no agreement has been reached on the point that the site technical officer has to be an architect instead of a site manager. The President of the Malta Developers’ Association Sandro Chetcuti, has warned that with the number of ongoing works on the island, they will not find enough architects for every construction site.

“We are concerned because we believe that there is no need for one to be an architect in order to be technical and competent. There are more courses these days and there are technical people who are also capable of being site managers,” he said.

Even the President of the Chamber of Architects believes that other solutions can be found. “We already said during the public consolation last week that there are other people who are qualified to fill this role.”

In the light of this Minister Borg  told TVM that this does not exclude other qualified people from being on site as technical officers. “At this particular moment we felt that the architect is the best professional who can fulfil this role. We will be entering into discussions with other professions, including those who have graduated from MCAST in fields which are related to construction sites. It appears that the Chambar of Engineering also wishes to discuss this.”

The President of the Chambrer of Architects, Simone Vella Lenicker, insisted that there is no need for this official to be an architect appointed by the contractor. “There are better solutions because the contractor is already responsible according to law to follow the architect’s instructions, and it is not clear who will be shouldering the legal responsibility; will it be the contractor or the contractor’s architect>”

The Chamber of Architects sent 27 questions to Minister Borg in which it has insisted that not only the stonemasons, but even the contractors, should be registered.

“To date they are not registered or regulated. If I am going to take responsibility for the integrity of the structure with a person who is not registered, not trained and does not have the necessary tools or the technical and competent people to carry out certain work, we are placing the architect in a position which is not tenable,” Ms Vella Lenicker pointed out.

The Chamber also feels that there needs to be a timeframe for the new obligations to come into effect.  “Did anyone carry out a study on the lead time required for the industry to adapt to the new regulations?”

On its part, the MDA wants to set up a construction council and is in favour of registering contractors. “Whoever is operating in this industry needs to be registered by a certain date. We will be insisting with the Government to pass a law in this aspect where even contractors have to start being classified.”

Minister Borg said that during this period, Planning Authority officials will be providing assistance to the Building Regulations Office to ensure that these regulations are adhered to and enforced.

See also:

Chamber of Architects complain they are not up to speed with new construction laws