New construction watchdog is still a White Paper

A new construction watchdog proposed by the government last year is nowhere near being set up

Part of an apartment block in Guardamangia collapsed last week, leaving four families homeless
Part of an apartment block in Guardamangia collapsed last week, leaving four families homeless

A new construction watchdog proposed last year is nowhere near being set up as government is still analysing the feedback from a public consultation exercise.

Regulation of construction sites remains fragmented, leaving residents with no focal point to report abuse and different enforcement agencies passing the buck between them.

This had to change with the creation of a new building and construction authority, proposed in a White Paper released last September. But eight months later the process has gone no further.

A spokesperson for the Infrastructure Ministry told MaltaToday that “the results of the public consultation process are currently being finalised”. She said that the necessary actions to set up the authority will be taken thereafter.

The ministry did not indicate a timeframe for the presentation of a law to set up this new structure.

The construction sector came under the spotlight again last week when part of an apartment block in Guardamangia collapsed, leaving four families homeless.

The block was situated next to a construction site but according to the authorities the contractor had observed all rules. A magisterial inquiry is ongoing.

In the wake of the incident, the Chamber of Architects lamented the fragmented enforcement on the construction industry and called on the government to update the regulations.

It described the rules governing the building industry as inadequate, especially at a time when the sector was booming and multiple construction sites were sprouting up in all localities.

The Chamber warned that the rate of construction accidents in Malta “whether resulting in damage to neighbouring properties, injury or even death is unacceptable.”

During the launch of the White Paper, Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg said the new authority would act as a single port of call for citizens and developers.

He acknowledged that the laws regulating the sector were antiquated and needed urgent revision.

The proposal was for the new Building and Construction Authority to absorb the work done by the Building Industry Consultative Council (BICC), the Building Regulation Office (BRO), the Building Regulation Board (BRB) and the Masons Board.

The public consultation on the proposal closed on 15 October.

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