Engineers’ reports show dangerous lack of maintenance at Cospicua home

A pair of reports into the Cospicua home for the elderly tabled in Parliament on Wednesday by Active Ageing Minister Jo Etienne Abela show the home’s sorry state of upkeep and maintenance or the lack thereof.

The reports that were drawn up following inspections by engineers in 2021 show there was a lot more wrong with the building than merely its crumbling concrete.

In fact, most of the building’s infrastructure and crucial security elements were found to be suffering from a severe lack of maintenance and the patch-up work undertaken over the years was no longer making the grade.

A furore had erupted at the end of May when the 120-odd residents of the Cospicua home were informed the home was to be closed down for urgent refurbishment work and that they would be relocated to other homes in the interim period.

Care Malta, a Vassallo Group company, has had a management contract for the residence since it opened in 1999. The contract has not been renewed since 2013 and has instead been periodically renewed every six months since.

In the meantime, the building has been left to deteriorate and engineers commissioned to inspect the building up to two years ago sounded multiple alarm bells.

One such report by Social Projects Management Ltd following a site visit on 13 April 2021 and dealt with mechanical and electrical services at the home, which were also found to have been in a sorry state and in urgent need of repair before an accident happens.

Fire hazards abound, alarm systems not functional and ‘obsolete’

The report found, for example, that the building’s fire alarm system was not functional when inspected, and that its panel constantly displayed several alarms when there was no fire.

The system was so obsolete that it could no longer even be maintained or repaired by the original supplier. The inspecting engineer had advised that a new system was an absolute necessity.

Nor did the building feature a protected fire escape staircase or fire doors. Moreover “doors intended to be such do not offer any form of protection”.

Other anti-fire systems were found to have “limited fire protection measures”.

“Services are passing through walls without any sealing, fire dampers, dry risers, or automatic extinguishing systems,” the inspecting engineer found.

Exposed wires causing a fire hazard.

He strongly advised, “A thorough fire study by a recognised fire expert needs to be carried out and requirements that are outlined should be immediately implemented.”

The building was found to have had a fire pump set up feeding a network of fire hose reels.

As the engineer observed, “Usually fire hose reels serve as a secondary means of fire-fighting however on the premises there are no other means to combat fire”.

The replacement of ageing fire hoses was also “solicited” and the pipe network was found to be in a “dire state, to the effect that a large section needs replacement (due to corrosion)”.

The fire pipe network in dire need of repair.

The fire pump was also found at the time to have even been switched off.

The air conditioning and plumbing systems were similarly found to have been those originally installed and in urgent need of repair given the “common occurrence of leaks due to corrosion”.

When it came to the plumbing system in particular, it was found the “complete replacement of the system is vital”.

Complete replacement of the system is vital

A complete replacement of the system plumbing system was deemed vital.

Even the CCTV system was found to have been “now obsolete”, so much so that the original supplier informed the home’s administration “to refrain from calling the for repairs as there is no support from the manufacturer”.

The lifts servicing the building, according to the report, were faulty and also in need of replacement.

“It is very urgent to avoid any accident from happening,” the engineer inspecting the site found.

“Our opinion is to have a lift expert examine the duplex lifts and issue a report accordingly keeping in mind that the units are serving a public building.”

When it came to the building’s boilers for space heating and hot water were “still the original units [from when the building opened its doors in 1999] and need to be replaced”.

The same went for the hot water calorifiers, which had required several interventions over the years to stem leaks.

The inspecting engineer did not mince his words when he wrote they needed to be replaced “in the near future before any catastrophic failure results requiring stoppage of the plant”.

One of the calorifiers, in fact, was found to not even have had a manhole, with the engineer finding “thus, this unit has never been maintained/cleaned from calcium deposits” and that “due to the lack of maintenance and inspection, it might fail at any given instant”.

Anti-lightning system ‘cannibalised’

Air ducts serving the kitchen, meanwhile, were found to be discharging and taking in air within an “unacceptable 10 metres”.

The system’s fans too were broken from wear and tear and the engineer found that “proper repairs and modifications are required”.

It was also recommended that the entire kitchen set up should be replaced or at least the modifications and repairs being recommended should be done.

Hot water pumps were also found to have been the originally-installed equipment and over 20 years old, as was the piping, which required “several interventions” over the years”.

It was also found the building is “totally unprotected against lightning” after the roof-mounted copper lightning protection system “had been cannibalised” over the years and only small sections were found to still be in place.

State of the building’s concrete ‘not acceptable’

Another report by Social Projects Management Limited dates back to September 2021 and describes how the state of the actual structure was “far worse than had been expected”.

For example, when inspecting a fifth-floor terrace where some work was being undertaken, it was found that “large chunks of concrete fell off and it was noted that the reinforcement of the same balconies was not up to the relative standards”.

It was found that large pieces of concrete had fallen off the building mainly because there was “no steel present to hold the concrete in place”.

Cracked concrete.

The consultants also noted that, apart from the reinforcement issue, “the most major concern was the strength of the concrete. It was found that in some areas the concrete was very easily removed and was definitely below expected standards”.

At that point, Terracore Ltd was called in to take core samples to determine the concrete’s strength.

It found that the concrete on two balconies sampled “was so weak that it did not even withstand the coring operation and as such, testing could not even be carried out”.

Where testing had been carried out, it was found the concrete was far below standard, so much so that the consultants remarked how “This is not acceptable.”

The government submitted its plans to demolish and rebuild the residential home for the elderly around four months ago.

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3 months ago

Min hu responsabbli ghal dan ix-xoghol hazin li sar 25 sena ilu?

Last edited 3 months ago by mark
Carmel Garcia
Carmel Garcia
3 months ago
Reply to  mark

Gvern Laburista kien għamel dan il-bini. Staqsi lil min kien imexxi fi zmienu.

3 months ago

So you have to ask,when are the builders, engineers, architects, building inspectors? (is there such a job?). The in house management team, the in house maintenance team, and the senior management, going to appear in front of an enquiring magistrate.? There are many things mentioned here that can only be construed as criminal neglect with a potential threat to life, they need to be taken down. ASAP

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
3 months ago

How come, then, that a team of experts (?) who had last visited the entire (?) place only a few years ago had extended its suitability for a further period until the end of 2024?

Is one to conclude that they were either incompetent or that they had lied in their findings – unless, of course, they had been shown around some of the most suitable rooms which had been adequately prepared exclusively for their visit?

The photos show not only simple cracks and flaking paint as, apparently, was the case when a quarter of a million worth of ‘renovation’ was carried out only a few month ago.

Explanations and clear indications of accountability are expected – nay, absolutely needed – to determine responsibilities!

3 months ago

So in 10 years of labour administration this place was knowingly allowed to deteriotate to the point of collapse. Yes , an inquiry has to be made and responsibility decided.
External concrete exposed to salt spray , if not protected will fail. Looking at the photos , there was total abandonship of the services and the building itself.
Unbelievable. No wonder the Minister does not want an inquiry. Some friends will be indicted for this.

By the way , Mater Dei is still there . No demolishing has been ordered after Konrad Mizzi , concrete comment , while planning his Panama Banking Spree from the Electrogas and Hospitals fraud.

Last edited 3 months ago by makjavel
mario pisani
mario pisani
3 months ago

Forsi wiehed jimpressjona ruhu jara dawn ir-ritratti. Il verita hi li dawk huma mormali u normalissimi. Dawk i-ritratti jaghtuni xnifhem li maintenance f’din id dar kien baghtut. Nistaqsi ukol kemm il darba sar preventive maintenance??? Dawn ir-ritratti qieghdin biex iqarqu u jigustifikaw lil ministru ghal dak li qieghed jghid. Ministru jekk l-oggett ma taghmillux maintenance, iva hekk jigrillu u it-tort ikun ta min kien immexxi id-dar.

3 months ago
Reply to  mario pisani

Taht dan il-gvern, mhux talli preventive maintenance ma ssirx imma anqas manteniment normali. Bini li sar fi zmien il-PN jircievi l-inqas manteniment biex jaqa fi stat hazin u jitwaqqa biex jerga jimbena w titwahhal irhama gdida li tghid li dan kien kapolavur ta gvern Laburista. Dan japplika wkoll ghal kull gnien li sar fi zmien il-PN.
Din id-darba l-gvern inqelgha b’zejtu ghax il-konkos difettuz ta din id-Dar tal-Anzjani, sar fi zmien Fredu Sant, Ma naghmlux li kien l-istess kuntrattur li hawwad il-konkos ta Mater Dei wkoll, hux?

3 months ago

Not impressed by the photos meant to justify demolition.

3 months ago

It was suggested that this government spent over 600,000 euro in recent ‘improvements’ while it knew of serious deficiencies and lack of proper maintenance, back in 2021.
Can anyone tell the public how this money was spent, who the contractors were and what was actually ‘improved/replaced’?
Why spend taxpayers’hard earned money on a building, so badly maintained, that parts of it need replacing?

Carmelo borg
2 months ago

Bhas soltu mhux Dak mhux Dak l iehor mhux l iehor l ohrajn u nibqaw serjin hekk u HADT ma jerfa if responsabilta.
Mafia state.

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