The Chamber of Architects concluded that Charles Polidano, iċ-Ċaqnu, was responsible for the dangerous demolition of the Go Exchange that caused building debris to rain down onto the road.
Polidano’s response wasn’t a polite apology for his perilous disregard for safety. He threatened the Chamber of Architects and every member of its investigative committee.
That’s Polidano – threaten and intimidate your adversary, and you’ll get your way. Brute force always does the trick in Polidano’s book.
If the prime minister, accompanied by the Archbishop, inaugurated his illegality-ridden Montekristo offices, he will hardly let the Chamber push him around.
Robert Abela declared that iċ-Ċaqnu should be rewarded for his efforts. Didn’t the Chamber get the prime minister’s message?
One thing is certain- iċ-Ċaqnu will make those architects pay. He’s determined to teach them a lesson – nobody messes with him.
The Chamber released a statement informing the public that its investigation into the demolition of the Go Exchange was concluded. They publicly announced that the contractor, Polidano, was to blame.
Polidano failed to follow the demolition method statement and adhere to the site technical officer’s instructions.
He was meant to clear the site for a mobile crane. Instead, he “decided to hastily proceed with the demolition works over the weekend… in defiance of the instructions given by the site technical officer”.
Polidano launched an immediate assault on the Chamber. He accused them of “damaging the company’s bid to win various ‘high value’ government tenders”.
If there’s anything that will rile Polidano, it’s jeopardising his chances to make more money.
He immediately filed legal action against the Chamber, demanding it “withdraw its statement”. The information published by the Chamber, Polidano maintained, led to “nothing but damage and prejudice to the legal proceedings that are still ongoing”.
He called the Chamber’s actions “negligent and abusive” because they came at a time when Polidano was in negotiations involving millions of euros.
Polidano’s pathetic argument is that the Chamber should have postponed publishing its decision if they knew that information about Polidano’s cowboy tactics could derail his efforts to win more government contracts.
Polidano claimed, through his lawyers, that the Chamber “was intended solely to cause damage to the company”. He made baseless allegations against the Chamber, stating that he “hoped such behaviour was not done in collusion with third-party competitors whose intention is to inflict commercial damage on Polidano”.
Polidano’s statement is eerily familiar. It sounds like a Labour Party statement accusing PN of wanting to destroy the film industry and deprive Maltese workers of their precious jobs after they criticised the Film Commissioner’s wasteful spending.
Polidano threatened the architects, saying he would hold the Chamber responsible for damages. He said he would take legal action against each of the Chamber’s members involved in the “so-called” investigation. He even called the Chamber to “step forward to settle damages”.
It takes some brass neck to hold the Chamber liable for damages because it’s conducted an investigation in an area of its expertise and found Polidano responsible for breaking all the rules.
The Chamber isn’t alone in condemning Polidano. The BCA already found him in breach and fined him the meagre sum of €5000. That’s mere back-of-the-sofa spare change for Polidano. That’s hardly a deterrent. It wasn’t.
Despite the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) ordering a stop to the demolition works after the incident at Psaila Street, work continued, and the whole site was flattened despite the stop notice.
When the Planning Authority was asked what action it would take, it replied: “It’s not our remit”.
There’s more to the story. The site owner was Joseph Portelli. The site manager was Mark Agius, Portelli’s business partner.
When Portelli contracted Polidano to demolish the Go Exchange building, and large boulders crashed onto Psaila Street, the BCA was forced to issue a stop notice to its own chairperson.
But Robert Abela maintained she had no conflict of interest. The prime minister insisted that the dispute only arose after the incident at B’Kara. Following public pressure, Schembri Grima reluctantly stepped down.
Just days after the incident, the BCA fined Polidano. It also fined Portelli’s business partner, Mark Agius, who was the site manager. It also fined Architect David Muscat, the site technical officer.
The only person involved who wasn’t fined by the BCA was the architect responsible – Maria Schembri Grima, who was the BCA’s chairperson just days earlier.
When the Chamber of Architects requested information from the BCA to help investigate the Go Exchange incident, the BCA refused to provide key documents.
The Site Management Responsibility form and the method statements, usually publicly available on the Planning Authority server, had suspiciously been removed. The Chamber complained about the BCA’s lack of cooperation in its investigation.
The BCA denied it, claiming it “always cooperated with the Chamber when formally asked to do so” but failed to provide evidence of its cooperation.
The BCA appears to be protecting its former chairperson by concealing documents required for the Chamber’s investigation.
Even more worrying is that Polidano is still waiting to be called to testify before a BCA Tribunal tasked with establishing responsibility for the botched demolition.
Furthermore, the Chamber didn’t ask Polidano to testify. He wasn’t given the chance to present his version of events.
In its February statement, the Chamber said, “Without a deterrent of a real and effective punishment, the industry is overrun by anarchy”. It referred to contractors like Polidano as “unscrupulous cowboys with questionable competence”.
Polidano is after his pound of flesh. His bullying tactics are not new.