Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.
A Msida-based scaffolding company has been ordered to vacate parts of Grade 1 National Monument Villa Frere it has occupied for 60 years, while those being evicted are yet to leave, claiming they have the right to remain.
According to the Lands Authority, the premises used by Joseph F. Spiteri & Co Ltd, known as Tal-Kee Klamps, have been left unmaintained and are at risk of imminent collapse.
While legal action is now underway, it is unknown how the company, which supplies scaffolding and construction equipment, has been allowed to occupy the large premises on Msida’s Marina Street without title documents for a long time.
Sources told The Shift that Heritage Malta, the government agency responsible for national heritage, has been calling on the government to order the eviction of the premises for several years, but to no avail.
Only now, after some 60 years, has legal action finally been taken.
Sources said that the recent action was only taken following an inspection by an architect, who found that the top-floor ceiling is in a critical condition to the point that contractors were reluctant to carry out temporary remedial works out of fears for their safety.
Technical reports seen by The Shift also express grave concern over the situation, as the ceilings were described as “condemned and in an explosive state of imminent collapse”.
Though enforcement officers from the Lands Authority have already been on site and asked tenants to vacate immediately, the inhabitants still occupy and use the building.
The tenants maintain that they hold title to the premises as, in the 1960s, it was their family home before they turned it into a hub for their scaffolding business.
Apart from the Kee Klamps company, other parts of the premises are reportedly being used illegally by other individuals and for other purposes. The Shift was informed that legal action had also been initiated to evict them.
Built by John Hookham Frere, a renowned English scholar, politician, poet, and diplomat in 1821, Villa Frere and its grand gardens on the Pieta waterfront were scheduled as a national monument in 2020 due to historical, architectural and unique cultural value.
Although Heritage Malta owns it, its administration and restoration have been entrusted to NGO Friends of Villa Frere.
Substantial parts of its gardens were destroyed in the 1950s to be used as parts of the St Luke’s Hospital premises.