PR 20/19 | Will this Legal Notice make our building sites any safer?

Verzjoni bil-Malti

The Kamra tal-Periti rejects the assertion that it and its legal advisers have not understood the Legal Notice 136 of 2019. The fact remains that over the last week massive meetings of periti, contractors and developers were organised in order to clarify what was meant to be crystal clear.

In a meeting held yesterday morning between the Kamra tal-Periti and government consultants regarding the Legal Notice, in the presence of MDA president, it was agreed that changes to the Legal Notice were necessary, and in the interim the BRO would issue binding guidance to industry stakeholders on the types of works that may be exempt from the new regulations through regulations 25 and 26, and on the liabilities that the Legal Notice implies. It was made clear to the Kamra that no demolition and excavation works would be exempted from the new regulations, upon application. It is not clear whether this means that construction on existing buildings are not covered by the Legal Notice, in spite of Schedule Six. This means that the only way that some types of construction works may proceed is by the BRO agreeing that the regulations can be circumvented altogether. This begs the question whether public safety is being safeguarded with the coming into force of the new regulations, and how further collapses of buildings will be prevented, and whether the whole confusion created was worth the effort.

The Kamra has reiterated its advice to periti to follow the requirements of the Legal Notice in its current form, until such time as the BRO issues binding guidance on the interpretation of the Legal Notice. When such guidance is issued, the Kamra will verify whether such guidance reflects what was verbally agreed, and will advise members of the profession accordingly. The Kamra was also given assurances that it would receive the fourth version of the relative BRO forms for its review before their re-publication. The BRO did not follow through such assurances. The Kamra is still not in agreement with the forms as published yesterday evening.

The Kamra is very concerned that only a few hundred building sites are currently operational. It cannot understand why all this chaos has been created, when now we are being told that most sites, except for excavation and demolition works, can qualify for exemption from the rules. Will this Legal Notice make our building sites any safer?

The Kamra’s demand for a proper registration of contractors, which was forcefully echoed by the MDA’s members at yesterday’s information session, has so far not been implemented by government. In the Kamra’s view, this is the most critical step in safeguarding public safety and preventing a repeat of the accidents of the last two months.