[WATCH] Powerful developers are conditioning servile authorities, Graffitti says

Moviment Graffitti will hold a march from St Luke's Hospital to the Malta Developers Association offices in Gwardamanga to protest 'the dictatorship of developers' on Tuesday at 6pm

Moviment Graffitti's André Callus said that too many construction sites around the country would mean that the relevant regulators will have their work cut out for them
Moviment Graffitti's André Callus said that too many construction sites around the country would mean that the relevant regulators will have their work cut out for them

Developers have amassed too much power over time so that government policies reflect their needs and the reactions of the authorities are often “servile” to this class of people, Moviment Graffitti says.

In light of the protest against the “dictatorship of developers” being held on Tuesday outside St Luke’s Hospital, Moviment Graffitti’s André Callus told MaltaToday that civil society can be powerful too.

“We believe that when people voice their opinion, this too is powerful. When the first building collapsed in Gwardamanga, we heard talk that this was a mere incident, but when people put pressure on the authorities, this discourse changed — what I fear is that if people don’t continue this pressure, the momentum might be lost, and things will go back the way they were,” Callus said.

Moviment Graffitti’s protest starts outside St Luke’s hospital at 6pm and the group aims to walk to the nearby offices of the Malta Developers Association.

“You don’t need to be an expert to see that the construction work is being done without due diligence because of greed, because developers want to amass a profit in the shortest time possible. Developers have accumulated too much power over time so that government policies reflect their needs and authorities are rendered servile to this class of people,” Callus said, adding that developers’ profits have become more important than the interests of the majority.

Along with the protest, the NGO has come up with a number of proposals to counter the construction ‘crisis’, one of which speaks about a limit to the number of building permits issued by the Planning Authority.

“You should not have too many construction sites on a single street. Malta has become one massive construction site, resulting in negative impacts to the way of life of residents. There should be a limit as there is in any other country.

“Too many construction sites also means that regulators and authorities will have their work cut out for them and this will mean less enforcement,” Callus said, adding that the recent construction incidents followed "zero enforcement".

The last construction incident saw the cave-in of an apartment wall, rupturing a hole in the resident family's kitchen
The last construction incident saw the cave-in of an apartment wall, rupturing a hole in the resident family's kitchen

He argued that proposals to change the law were not enough. While it is good that legislation undergoes an overhaul, it is the attitude that had to be changed, he added.

“The attitude of developers and the servile authorities needs changing. We are not saying that construction shouldn’t happen. The point is how it’s happening and how much is happening, and what needs is it catering for,” he said.

Callus questioned whether the current construction boom was reflective of what people required, saying that while so many new buildings were being built, young people could not afford new properties.

“This talk of free market is driving the country into a wall. Politics shouldn’t be based on free market but on the needs of the people,” Callus said.

When asked about Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s reaction to the incidents, putting the blame on architects, Callus was reluctant to do the same.

“The blame is not on a single person. It’s useless blaming architects. While they might have a responsibility, it shouldn’t stop there. The whole system is failing. If people are complaining and nothing is being done, the problem goes deeper,” he concluded.

READ ALSOJoseph Muscat admits lack of enforcement: Construction sector grew faster than regulators

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