The silence from the authorities responsible for last Saturday’s building collapse, which led to 20-year-old JeanPaul Sofia losing his life while another five workers were hospitalised, may have to do with the fact that the incident occurred on government property.
The Shift is reliably informed that the five-storey brick building, which went down like a pack of cards as soon as it felt the weight of concrete being poured on its roof, was being built on government property managed by Indis Malta – the state agency responsible for industrial parks.
So far, the government has not made any statement on who was involved in this project, while Indis Malta did not disclose its involvement in the Kordin project.
Sources close to the industry told The Shift that the premises were being built following a concession given a few years ago by Indis Malta, formerly Malta Industrial Parks, to businessman Matthew Schembri to use as a timber factory and offices.
Research by The Shift shows that the building’s permit was hurriedly issued by the Planning Authority last June, two weeks after its validation, through a DNO (Development Notification Order), which is used to expedite the planning process.
The architect responsible for the application is Adriana Zammit, who acquired her warrant in 2012 and works full-time as an architect at Infrastructure Malta – the government agency responsible for road building.
All architects working for the government or its agencies can do private work.
Architect Zammit, from Żabbar, also worked as a case officer at the Planning Authority for years.
The same sources said the building was being constructed by a Serbian contractor known as Miromir Milosovic, who has been working in Malta for a few years.
He did not appear to be among those on site when the tragedy occurred. It is also unclear whether all the workers he engaged, including a Bosnian and three Albanians, had valid work permits.
According to Malta’s building rules, which the government has been promising to reform for years, particularly every time a building collapses, there are no requirements for contractors to register their activity.
The Malta Developers Association has also been calling for a proper register for years.
“All a so-called contractor needs to do to start practising is engage a builder (licensed mason) who is expected to be on site during work,” the sources said.
Industry sources expressed dismay at the latest fatality and put the blame squarely on the government regulators.
“Apart from the apparent shoddy work on site which led to last Saturday’s disaster, the supposed reform which was to be introduced by Robert Abela resulted in more paperwork and costs but no enforcement,” one said.
“It is obvious that there is no will by the authorities to make sure the building industry is regulated, and the discrimination between serious and shoddy contractors will continue,” another experienced builder told The Shift.
So far, it is unclear whether the Site Technical Officer, required to be present to make sure that all health and safety and proper building practices are being followed, was on site during the project.
A magisterial inquiry is ongoing.