Prime Minister Robert Abela felt “angry and hurt” by the collapse of the building that left a 54-year old victim, Miriam Pace.
He has no business feeling angry and hurt. He should be full of regret and remorse. A woman, a mother of two, died crushed under the greed of the construction industry. The writing was on the wall, given the spate of building collapses in recent months, but no tangible, effective action was taken to address the shortcomings that led to them.
The family of the victim can expect only one thing – injustice.
Of course, there will be an inquiry. There’s always an inquiry. Of course, there will be proposed reforms by a technical committee. There are always proposed reforms by a technical committee. But the chances of another fatal accident remain high, and then there will be another inquiry and reform of the reforms.
But the government will never stand in the way of the construction industry, because it holds the government ransom. Rather than calling for restraint, the government will continue to go to extraordinary lengths to encourage the construction industry’s crazed rampage.
It will continue to ensure that the few laws and regulations governing the industry remain lax and inadequate. That new laws and regulations are deliberately drafted with a loophole or two. And the lack of oversight and the lack of enforcement are maintained by political cronies placed in government institutions, agencies and authorities at every level.
Let’s take the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA). It’s supposed to ensure safety at the workplace. It’s supposed to ensure that we don’t have workers at building sites falling to their death. The chairman appointed is Labour MP Manuel Mallia, a criminal lawyer, whose area of expertise is not health and safety. He is there to serve the interests of his political party.
Having a government MP as the chairman of the Authority will ensure that the agency can never do its work without fear or favour.
The unbridled greed that led to Pace’s death is a hallmark of former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s tenure. When he resigned, the legacy he left was an economy built on crony capitalism, corruption, crime and impunity.
It’s not limited to the construction industry – it runs across the full length and breadth of Malta’s economy. But there’s a sizeable portion of people who don’t give a damn about how the economy is fed, as long as it booms, as long as their wallets become fatter, and as long as their beloved Party remains in government.
It doesn’t matter to them that the core values of decency, integrity and justice are not upheld. It doesn’t matter to them that the rule of law is undermined. It doesn’t matter to them if the price of their greed is a life snuffed out.
It’s now amply clear that Muscat’s anointed Prime Minister Abela intends keeping things that way.
Angry, my foot. He’s complicit in Pace’s death.
A protest is being organised by Moviment Graffitti on Saturday 7 March at 10.30am, starting from St Thomas More College (near Misraħ il-Vittmi Ħamruniżi) in St Venera and moving towards the site of the tragedy where some speeches will be held.