Kordin tragedy: Factory was illegal, basic commencement notice ‘never submitted’

The Kordin timber factory that collapsed last Saturday, claiming the life of 20-year-old JeanPaul Sofia and seriously injuring another five, was being built illegally on government property.

According to a fast-tracked permit, known as a Development Notification Order (DNO) issued last June, the construction project could only proceed if the architect involved, Adriana Zammit, had first filed a Commencement Notice with the Planning Authority and obtained the necessary clearance from the Building and Construction Agency (BCA).

The law states that a failure to present this notice would mean the permit had never been ‘activated’ and any construction would be deemed illegal.

Following days of research and queries, The Shift has confirmed the project’s architect failed to observe the requirements of the law while construction work was ongoing for several months.

When contacted for a copy of the Commencement Notice, which is supposed to be a public document, a spokesperson for the BCA first said the government agency did not know whether the Commencement Notice was available to the public. When given the permit number by The Shift, the spokesperson said it was a Planning Authority matter and promptly hung up.

When The Shift insisted on seeing a copy of the Commencement Notice, the Planning Authority eventually admitted: “It was never submitted”.

The Shift has reported 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.

The building, intended as a timber factory by owner Matthew Schembri, had been under construction for several months. Yet none of the regulatory agencies – the Planning Authority, the BCA or the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) – noticed what was happening under their very noses. Not even to check whether a commencement notice had been issued.

The verification exercise only began after the tragedy.

A Commencement Notice is required for every project and lists details of all those involved, including the developers, architect, contractors, site technical officers and the health and safety contractor.

Sources close to the ongoing investigations told The Shift that the fact that work was being carried out without a Commencement Order increases the severity of the accident that led to the death of a young worker.

“The architect and all those involved are facing serious claims that can lead to massive repercussions,” sources told The Shift.

So far, none of those involved has been arraigned as investigations continue.

The Shift has already revealed that most of those involved in the project have strong connections to the government. The developers, Matthew Schembri and Kurt Buhagiar (the Lands Authority CEO’s driver), have a colourful past linked to human trafficking and the hiring of hitmen.

The architect, Adriana Zammit, is a former Planning Authority official and is currently a full-time employee at Infrastructure Malta.

The land in question belongs to the government and was leased to Allplus Ltd, in which Schembri and Buhagiar are shareholders.

According to The Times of Malta, Buhagiar had also worked as the driver of Malta Enterprise chairman William Wait when the industrial plot in Kordin was allocated to him and his business partner.

The contractors are known to be Serbian, but they are not registered.  Prime Minister Robert Abela has been promising a contractor’s register for three years, but it has never been implemented.

                           
                           
                               
guest

14 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Gee Mike Gatt
Gee Mike Gatt
1 month ago

Why bother applying for a permit. At the fourth floor and nobody had realised anything is out of place.

Mick
Mick
1 month ago

“Massive repercussions” just what does that entail in this dystopian state.

Wenzu
Wenzu
1 month ago

When one is close to the gang of crooks in Castille, rules and regulations don’t apply.

Matthew E. Joslin
Matthew E. Joslin
1 month ago

Establishing a certification for approved contractors requires the very certification standard to be accredited by a notified body first …Malta Standards Authority MSA, British Standard BS, German standard DIN Deutsches Institut fuer Normung. Defenitly not the MDA which is a lobby group defending its members- construction contractors.

The accredited standards exist but may require adaptation to specific characteristics, like using Maltese stone in design. The process methods used in constuction though, are defenitly common regardless of geographical area. See here. https://www.constructionbooks.net/construction-building-standards

Anything short of this accreditation process is a joke, an insult to professionals and possibly a scam to carry on with sloppy standards Malta enjoys today.

This is well known by professionals leading authorities or others vested with responsibility to direct change in OHS or influential bodies like the Chamber of commerce, Kamra tal Periti, University of Malta.

Matthew Joslin
B.Mech.Eng (Hons)

Last edited 1 month ago by Matthew E. Joslin
M.Galea
M.Galea
1 month ago

They are all in it together!

Charles
Charles
1 month ago

” The architect and all those involved are facing serious claims that can lead to massive repercussions”… so stated a source. The serious claims are already in play! As for the massive repercussions… ALL of Malta will wait with bated breath to see, bearing in mind “those involved” have friends in the right places ..so let’s wait and let’s see the repercussions! Of course, ALL of Malta will wonder how many years the investigation into this criminal act will take and with what conclusions. Let’s hope the young victim’s family sue all the criminals involved in his killing!

Nic.
Nic.
1 month ago

Mexxi. L aqwa li ghandna l hbieb mafjuzi f kastilja.

Godfrey Leone Ganado
Godfrey Leone Ganado
1 month ago

Malta – a failed State where the supreme law is that of the mighty jungle.
Of course the Prime Minister and his merry men and women can, wherever they go, advertise our country as pro-business.

I. Gatt
I. Gatt
1 month ago

“A Commencement Notice is required for every project and lists details of all those involved, including the developers, architect, contractors, site technical officers and the health and safety contractor.”
Let us all hope that the inquiring magistrate takes the above into account…. ! However, we are only hoping are we not!!!!!?

Joseph
Joseph
1 month ago

That’s what Gahan and those greed money votes voted for. These everyday illegal contraventions start from morning till night to those of the government aċolytes. The PA authority have blood in their own hands by means of favouring unlicenced foriegn people working on such delicate jobs. So if the building in the future days was ready as if nothing of the accident happened, and in the future terms it collaps with people working in it, it was going to be the most disaster collapse building of the moment. U l-HTIJA TA’ MIN HI! TAL-GVERN KORROTT li dejjem inheba wara gahan jekk mhux kollox tort ta’ disgraced-dittatur JM. Dak li jigri minn ikun fil-gvern hu minhu bil-voti mixtrija huwa illegali u dittatur. Alla ma jhallas nhar ta’sibt jghidu.

Joseph
Joseph
1 month ago

Bhalissa il-PN huwa totalment rieqed raqda. Min se jregga’ lura din ittragedja ta’bini bla sens f’pajjizna min jgholli bil-hila ta’ci hadd prominenti. Garaxxi taht l’art dirett ghal fuq bankini fejn ikunu ghaddejhin in-nies. Prosit ghal periti tal-flus li hawn fil-mument. Jaghmel wiehed l’ohrajn jikkopjaw bhalu. Karrozzi min garrag johorgu fuq bankina min fejn tkun ghaddej ghal affari tieghek. Periti tal-flus.

Joseph Mifsud
Joseph Mifsud
1 month ago

If laws in regards to the Construction Industry are passed and enforced especially if these are up to EU standard the building industry will come to an immediate halt and property prices rise to astronomical values.
And that will put Malta into an Environmental, Social and Financial crisis, which will in turn put the EU Commission in a very awkward situation of causing a crisis in its smallest state because it didn’t apply the EU’S Principal of Proportionality Law on Malta, which means that certain EU laws like the Freedom of Movement of Property law doesn’t apply to Malta.

makjavel
makjavel
1 month ago

The procrastination of the Prime Minister has resulted in people dying. The PM should resign, there is no other way out.
The PM is responsible for the death of these persons.
The buck stops at his desk.
Go smile somewhere else.

Nicky scicluna
Nicky scicluna
1 month ago

This should never have happened or be allowed to happen again. The architect and all involved should be stripped of their licence and not even allowed to work in any area similar. Surely in this day and age government can invest in drones like Google maps and alert any changes to skyline or bew buildings going up to check illegalities.. Always after tragedies, we invest. Sad sad sad.

Related Stories

In an ironic twist, government turns down FOI request for its own FOI report
Two years ago, the government embarked on a project
Italian police find ‘complex system trafficking vehicles stolen in Italy destined for Malta’
Italian police on Thursday morning dismantled a massive ‘Ndrangheta

Our Awards and Media Partners

Award logo Award logo Award logo