Government will not back down over Mater Dei’s weak concrete claims – Konrad Mizzi

Despite Skanska snubbing government over hospital damage claims, energy minister Konrad Mizzi insists Malta will fight tooth and nail

Health minister Konrad Mizzi has this morning pledged that the government would fight Skanska ‘tooth and nail’ in order the compensation that the Maltese public deserves for weak concrete at Mater Dei Hospital.

Speaking on One Radio, Mizzi insisted that the Skanska’s snubbing of the government’s claims for damages would not daunt the PL administration from instituting their claims. Conversely, the health and energy minister insisted that the government would fight to recoup ‘every one cent that the Maltese public deserves.’

Mizzi was reacting to a MaltaToday on Sunday report which revealed that Swedish contractors Skanska, the engineering giant behind the €700 million state-of-the-art Mater Dei Hospital, has told Attorney general Peter Grech it will not meet him to discuss the Maltese governemnt’s claims for damages on weak cement foundations on the hospital.

MaltaToday revealed that in a letter, the Swedish engineering giant told the Attorney General that “SMJV (Skanska-Malta Joint Venture) cannot be held liable for alleged defects.”

Notwithstanding the waiver exonerating Skanska and its Maltese partners from liability on Mater Dei’s faulty concrete, Konrad Mizzi insisted that the government “will not throw in the towel.”

“We knew that the hospital was small but we never expected that the hospital had unsafe concrete foundations. It is highly disappointing that the contract negotiated between Skanska and the previous government included a waiver, and we are disappointed that the previous government had accepted the waiver to exonerate Skanska’s responsibility for a leaking water reservoir,” he said.

“However, we will not back down and will not throw in the towel as the former government did. We have a team of lawyers working on Malta’s claim and once the claims are finalised, we will fight tooth and nail to ensure that the taxpayer gets a fair deal,” the health minister said.

Flanked by parliamentary secretary for health Chris Fearne, Mizzi insisted that there was that tests carried on the quality of the concrete during the hospital’s construction were tantamount to fraudulent behaviour.

On his part, Fearne argued that the least the Opposition could do was apologise to the people, and admit its shortcomings.

“We expect the Opposition to be on the government’s side in its claims against Skanska. They have already made it very difficult with the waiver, and we hope that the PN does not hinder our claim,” he said.

The junior minister also insisted that nurses working at the Gozo General Hospital will not be fired or ordered to work in Malta.

“Two PN officials are scaremongering nurses working at the Gozo Hospital and telling them that their work is under threat. This is not true; everyone will be retained. The truth is that the Gozo hospital needs more nurses and doctors, and that eventually, some 60 Gozitan nurses working in Malta would be able to work in Gozo,” Fearne said.

Turning his attention on the new Oncology centre, the parliamentary secretary said that the migration of services from Boffa Hospital to the Sir Anthony Mamo oncology centre had gone very smoothly, and that the centre would be formally inaugurated this afternoon.

“Today is a proud day, the government feels a sense of ownership because when it inherited the project after the general election, it was way behind schedule and disorganised,” Konrad Mizzi said.

“The staff is happier, the facilities at the new oncology centre are much better as those at the Boffa hospital were, bluntly speaking, substandard,” the energy minister said.

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