Transport Malta ordered to pay for accident caused by roadworks

Transport Malta has been ordered by the court of appeal to pay damages to a driver involved in a traffic accident caused by works carried out at its request

(File Photo)
(File Photo)

The court of appeal has confirmed a judgment awarding damages to a driver involved in a traffic accident caused by works carried out at the behest of Transport Malta.

Carmelo Portelli had been involved in an accident in Triq iż-Żejtun in Birzebbugia when he skidded on gravel and dust left by a contractor who was carrying out works on the road and ended up in a field.

In June 2018, the Small Claims Tribunal had found for Portelli and awarded him €1800 in damages. Transport Malta had appealed, arguing that the Tribunal had made a mistake when it did not apply a clause in the contract with the contractor, which read that “the Provider shall assume all risks of accident or damage to the Work, from whatever cause arising and shall be responsible for the sufficiency of all means used by it for the fulfilment of this Contract of Works and shall not be relieved from such responsibility by any approval which may have been given by the Supervisor, the Contracting Authority, and any other stakeholders”.

The court said that this clause was irrelevant to the case, however as the appellant was not a party to the contract, which only bound the contractor and the authorities.

A police constable had confirmed that there was a part of the road where the works were being carried out that had gravel and missing tarmac. Passing cars would create a dust cloud which reduced visibility, he added. In addition to this, there were no hazard lights, indicating potential danger to motorists at a safe distance.

A number of motorists had found themselves in difficulty in the area, the court was told.

Transport Malta had argued that the responsibility for the incident was mostly that of the contractor, but the Court of Appeal disagreed, saying that Transport Malta was responsible for road safety.

The court said this was a clear case of negligence on the part of the contractor and a serious shortcoming on the part of Transport Malta for failing to ensure that the danger was minimised.

“Calleja is another contractor for whom health and safety on the road mean nothing,” observed the court.

The appeal was rejected with costs to be paid by Transport Malta.

More in Court & Police