What’s Robert Abela waiting for?

The mother of Jean Paul Sofia, who died under the rubble of an illegal timber factory, wants to meet Robert Abela.

The prime minister has found time to go to Gozo and get filmed shaking hands, sipping coffee and chatting in a village square. He’s found time for multiple political events. But he hasn’t managed to afford the young man’s grieving mother a few minutes of his time.

Why does Isabelle Bonnici want to meet Abela? To get assurance that justice will be done. Her anxiety stems from Abela’s dismissiveness of her innocent son’s case.

Sofia was killed when an illegal construction collapsed on 3 December 2022. Another five suffered injuries, three life-threatening injuries. Instead of promptly providing information, Abela’s government and his institutions withheld vital information.

It was the persistence of journalists that informed the public about the true magnitude of the disaster. The collapsed factory was being built on government property allocated by Indis Malta Ltd, a government company administering government industrial parks.

That land was given to Matthew Schembri, who commissioned two of his Albanian employees to beat up his ex-wife’s father. The Albanians, according to their lawyer, were living in “pitiful conditions” because Schembri hadn’t paid them for months.

The Shift also revealed that Schembri’s business partner was Kurt Buhagiar, the personal driver of Lands Authority CEO Robert Vella and former driver of Konrad Mizzi’s mate, William Wait.

Buhagiar spent a year in a Ragusa prison for his involvement in human trafficking.

In 2017, Konrad Mizzi recruited him as a WSC fitter.  He was soon transferred to Lands as the CEO’s driver and right-hand man.

Schembri’s company, Whitefrost Co Ltd, an air-conditioning installation company, has been awarded 20 government contracts worth €1.1 million by the government.

The Kordin factory had been under construction for months.  Yet the architect responsible, Adriana Zammit, a former Planning Authority and current full-time Infrastructure Malta employee, hadn’t even submitted the mandatory commencement notice. No clearance was obtained by the architect for the work to start.

What’s even more damning for Abela is that the institutions responsible – the Planning Authority, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), and the Occupational Health and Safety Authority – hadn’t even noticed that construction had commenced.  Far less did those institutions ensure regulations were being followed.

When the Shift contacted the BCA to enquire about the commencement notice, the BCA refused to reply.  The Planning Authority finally admitted it wasn’t submitted.

Weeks after Sofia’s death, his mother hadn’t even been contacted by the authorities or the building site owner. She’s still waiting to meet the prime minister. Months later, nobody’s been charged.

Six weeks before Sofia’s death,  a building collapsed in Gurgaon, India, killing two labourers. Police charged the building owner and two contractors with culpable homicide the following day.

When a Philadelphia building was brought down by a 42-year-old operating demolition equipment next door, killing six people, he was charged within days.

The owner of a building site and a construction supervisor were charged with involuntary manslaughter just three days after their building collapsed in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

In July 2022, 20 people were indicted just days after their construction collapsed in Abadan, Iran, causing deaths.

Robert Abela keeps dismissing calls for a public inquiry into the scandalous Kordin collapse, claiming that “if we truly want justice, the institutions should be allowed to work with serenity”. Which institutions?

The BCA, the OHSA, and the Planning Authority, which didn’t even notice construction had started? Those institutions aren’t working in serenity.  They’re just not working.  The only one who thinks they are is Abela.

That factory was being built by Serbian contractors who weren’t even registered.  It’s been over three years since Abela pompously promised in Parliament that the BCA would register all contractors. What is BCA doing?

The BCA awarded former Labour Minister Charles Buhagiar a €20,000 euro direct contract to do the work he was already paid to do as the Building Industry Consultative Council CEO.

BCA awarded his former assistant and ex-Labour candidate Martin Debono three direct orders worth €30,000 euro to do the same work. BCA is doling out hundreds of thousands of our money to Labour insiders while completely failing to protect citizens.

That BCA was set up on the recommendation of an expert panel Abela convened after another innocent life was brutally ended when excavation work brought her house down. Miriam Pace’s death was meant to bring about change.

Abela kept that panel’s report hidden for months. It only saw the light of day in January 2021 after angry demands from Pace’s family to publish it.

The architect eventually found guilty of causing Pace’s death was Abela’s own architect on his Iklin property development.

Abela entered into a business deal with Gilbert Bonnici, managing director of Bonnici group, a construction conglomerate that received millions in direct orders from Labour as well as an unspecified amount of money from Malta Enterprise to fund machinery worth millions at their plant. Abela himself inaugurated his business partner’s new machinery funded by our taxes.

Abela’s architect, responsible for Miriam Pace’s death, just got a fine, changed to a suspended sentence on appeal.

No wonder Abela wants the institutions to work ‘in serenity’. Two years ago, he openly acknowledged “the lack of action in the construction industry”.  He insisted that “today I believe we need to give it a higher priority”.

Today,  people are still dying because of his pathetic inaction against his business partners and their friends.  He’s still trying to buy time for construction magnates.  He’s still being hosted at dinners by Joseph Portelli and co. His Party’s still funded by the construction industry.

We all know what he’s waiting for. For us to forget Miriam Pace. And Jean Paul Sofia, Adrian Muscat, Hayrettin Kok, Luca Curmi, and the unnamed Georgian, Turk, Syrian and Maltese construction workers who all lost their life in 2022 alone.

Meanwhile, his construction buddies keep funding Labour and getting richer while more innocent people die.


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Rodrick vella
Rodrick vella
1 month ago

I have sympathy for this mother and I am very sorry. Unfortunately has become a normality now. Myself I was being bullied by a business man who was scaring my family with his trucks by driving savagely. I informed local council of my village for barriers near my house, police, T M and even got my lawyer to send letters to these entiies. Nobody wanted to do anything apart from siding the perpetrator because he is a big fish. After this be busted my facade with his truck and nearly sqashed my 8 yr old child against the wall of my house with the bumper of his truck on another occation. All recorded on cctv and the police did not want to take action because he has friends in high places. This man has caused me thousnds of euros of damages in my property and nobody wants to stop him. All this has even effected the happyness of my family and the authorities dont want to do nothing because this characher is greasing them all. Good luck isabelle

1 month ago
Reply to  Rodrick vella

Going with what you have told, you deserve as much sympathy and empathy for the situation you find yourself in as you have given to the mother who mourns her son.

Good luck to you too. Hopefully one day, there will be better times.

1 month ago

It wasn’t quite different back in 2019 when Joseph Muscat was still PM and when a couple of construction site accidents happened, damaging one house adjacent to a building site. The person living in that house was lucky as she survived that accident. What was the way then PM Joseph Muscat handled that? Give a short visit to the site and all the usual lip service to ease the outrage among the population and afterwards, just forget about it and ‘continue’ with business as usual.

There is really nothing else to expect from PM Abela as stated in this article because he has shown since he took over from Joseph Muscat that in the end of the day, he handles such incidents the same way like his predecessor.

Apparently, there are more important matters for the Prime Minister to take care of, like the issue reported in the opinion article in the Times of Malta of 12 Februar 2023 ‘ Why are we paying for Michelle Muscat’s car?’, then the tripple higher wages as in this example: ‘FMS boss still being paid three times more than her closest managers’, article on this website published today. Not to forget the ‘duties’ to attend to like mentioned in this article as well. The Prime Minister is very busy, too busy with other people and he has no time for a woman who lost his son on a building site. Fact is, the ordinary citizens doesn’t count for the high ranking PLers, they are just good enough for the latter for getting their votes in order to win elections and secure to keep the big money coming in, nothing else.

1 month ago

Correction of typo: it has to be written ‘the Prime Minister is very busy, too busy …’. There was a mistyping in the first comment which wasn’t intended for the meaning of the mistyped word is different to what I mean.

1 month ago

It gets more sickening every time one reads about the ineptitude of Abela.

N Scerri
N Scerri
1 month ago
Reply to  wenzu

Mafia web mela ineptitude.The corrupt protecting criminals.

John Charles Betts
John Charles Betts
1 month ago

It is shameful for any politician, let alone a prime minister, to refuse to meet a victim of incompetence on a national scale who wants justice and closure.
Considering the prevalent attitude towards people’s lives and health, it is legitimate to ask whether there are any politicians concerned about verifying the state and implementation of an earthquake construction code for Malta. Or are they not concerned with the possibility of replicating what happened in Turkey and Syria?

N Scerri
N Scerri
1 month ago

Indis led by Kurt Farrugia,assistant to Corrupt PM of the year earning 150,000 a year,should lease land for manufacturing purposes.TVM first reported that a car showroom was being built then TOM reported a wood factory. Car showrooms are better associated with moneylaunderers and the type of people the land was leased to.Could Shift investigate this as if it was to become a car showroom no wonder nothing is being investigated.

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