“These tragic accidents will continue to happen” – geologist
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In the light of the accident which took place two days ago in Guardamangia, when a block of apartments and a house collapsed, geologist, Dr Peter Gatt said that buildings in Malta will continue to collapse.
Dr Gatt said that this is not the first time that a building adjacent to a construction site where excavation is taking place has collapsed, and people have even lost their lives. This problem can, therefore, be considered as a recurring one.
Speaking to TVM, Dr Gatt said that the building in G’Mangia appears to have been in good condition and the accident probably happened due to a geological fracture.
Dr Gatt remarked that excavation and construction works require the geological evaluation of the foundations on which the new building is going to be built, but unfortunately, Malta remains the only country in the EU which does not enforce this procedure. He believes that the time has come for the authorities to appoint experts to evaluate the geological situation of a site before any construction work can start.
When questioned about what might have happened in the case of the G’Mangia building, Dr Gatt said that the excavation works probably lead to the building’s collapse.
He also told TVM that a building collapses as a result of two scenarios: when the nature of the rock itself is weak to begin with, or when the rock is strong but then cracks are revealed during the excavation process and a building eventually collapses.
Therefore, through proper evaluation and precautions, the safety of the rock can be determined prior to the start of construction works both as regards to buildings, as well as other projects such as the excavation works for the Malta-Gozo tunnel.
Dr Gatt said this without prejudice to the ongoing investigations.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement, the Chamber of Architects commented on the shortcomings in the law concerning building and construction. While saying that it has been asking the authorities to regulate this sector for many years, it said its requests have always fallen on deaf ears.
The Chamber also said that the number of accidents and the damage being caused by this industry are not acceptable and that the issue must be addressed as soon as possible.
It also mentioned the fact that architects are working in the industry with a conduct certificate as well as a professional warrant, while contractors who are managing the projects are not regulated – so they can operate without any insurance or training in this field.