Residents ‘scared’ as hole appears in apartments after construction works

Updated to include Townsquare’s response.

A Sliema resident who lives in apartments bordering the Town Square Project construction site has voiced his fear and concern after cracks were found in the building’s foundations following construction works.

Gabriel Farrugia told The Shift that his neighbour felt a small shake in the morning as construction works were going on under the balconies of some 20 apartments.

The workers hit a column in the lower levels of the building, which has caused two bricks to fall out of the wall and create a hole between the garages of the apartment block and construction site.

“The minute we saw the damage we got scared,” he said.

Farrugia’s concerns are understandable. In early March, Miriam Pace was crushed under the rubble of her home in Santa Venera when it crashed to the ground triggered by construction works adjacent to the building. The fatal house collapse was the fourth major building collapse in less than a year.

He explained that the residents have been noticing damages in the lowest levels of the garages for months, which have included cracks and seeping water. “The digging is being done too close to our walls and foundations and this is the result,” he said in a Facebook post on Saturday.

The Town Square project involves the construction of a 27-storey tower. “It is bad enough we had to accept 27 storeys, and that we put up with the noise pollution and dust. Do we have to keep checking these things in our home too?” he asked.

Over the weekend, the CEO of the project, Peter Diacono, has apologised for the incident and committed to fixing the damage, while the Sliema Local Council and police have also checked up on the site and reached out to the residents, Farrugia said. Despite this, work has carried on today. 

“Why should these things even happen in the first place? Is it because there are shoddy workers?” Farrugia asked.

Farrugia went on to point out the irony of the Town Square Project being branded as a “sustainable” project. “How sustainable is this urban project if to beautify Sliema you need to destroy the peace of so many individuals?” he asked.

Similar fears were voiced by EC language school in St Julians earlier this month, after photos of the work surrounding the school raised concern about the safety of the building. The school relocated its staff and commissioned a structural engingeer to study the risks of the excavation works adjacent to their building.

Last week, a medical professional at the Emergency Ward at Mater Dei appealed for construction work to stop while people are quarantined because of coronavirus.

Townsquare responds

Townsquare said a site inspection was held yesterday afternoon (March 29) by the developer’s architect in the presence of residents’ representatives. The damage was superficial and remedial works will be carried out on Wednesday, the company told The Shift.

During coring works to prepare for the underpinning of the neighbouring property, a borer used by the contractor inadvertently punctured a non-load-bearing hollow concrete block wall and brushed the edge of a reinforced concrete column situated at L-4 basement car park level, Townsquare added.

While apologising to residents for any inconvenience, Townsquare emphasised that at no point was the adjoining structure in any danger.

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