Graffitti insists that draft construction regulations ignore public’s ‘anxieties’

The NGO said that the draft regulations ignore the wellbeing of residents, as well as issues related to occupational health and safety

A set of regulations published for public consultation by the government at the start of the week ignore issues related to residents’ wellbeing, Moviment Graffitti said on Friday.

On Monday, the government published a list of regulations for addressing shortcomings in the regulatory framework regulating the construction sector. The new rules come in wake of a third incident in which an occupied residence was damaged by excavation works taking place next door.

Last week’s accident, the third in just two months, forced the government to temporarily suspend all excavation and demolition works, until new rules are put in place.

The draft regulations were published on Monday, with the consultation period coming to an end today.

In its submission, the NGO, which earlier this week organised a protest against “developers’ greed”, said that it was disappointed that the regulations were strictly and solely centred around construction and demolition procedures and completely ignored the wellbeing of residents.

The rules also ignore issues related to occupational health and safety, Graffitti said.  

“In our opinion, this draft does not address the anxieties of the general public with regards to the ‘accidents’ that have happened during the past few weeks, and far less, the issue of deaths in construction sites. It also appears that there has been no effort in favour of real and efficient enforcement, despite the promises that have been made in the media in these days,” Graffitti said.

The NGO said it was again reiterating proposals it presented last week, which they said would allow residents to live peacefully inside their homes while also improving their standard of living.

Graffitti’s proposals:

1. The volume of planning permits for residential and commercial projects has to be capped and limited, since this is the direct cause of unacceptable amounts of noise, dust, and traffic congestion.

2. The amendments to building regulations agreed by Transport Malta and the MDA, announced in November 2018, allowing construction works in secondary roads to commence before 9.30am, have led to an increase in traffic congestion as well as numerous inconveniences to residents. We therefore propose a restriction in the hours during which construction and excavations/demolitions can take place, a limit to the number of roads closed for construction works, and a limit on the number of parking places that are taken away from residents.

3. The introduction of laws that impose decent standards to safeguard the safety and security of residents, and of workers in construction sites.

4. These laws will only function properly thanks to a serious and painstaking enforcement of the laws regulating construction, so that workers and residents alike are given protection and dignity.

5. That the responsibilities for these accidents are clear, instead of the present situation in which authorities pass the buck to each other. We feel it is unacceptable that the victims of these accidents are forced to fork out substantial sums of money to pay for architects, notaries or lawyers to certify that their own house is safe from other people’s construction works. We also feel it is unacceptable that, after such accidents occur, there is no efficient mechanism to remedy the situation: under current rules, residents can only seek legal remedy through the law courts and have to wait for months, if not years, until they return home, at their expense, with daily uncertainties about their future. This often leads to residents to suffer from psychological issues, another injustice piled to the others they have already suffered.

6. Finally, construction sites should be audited by an independent authority at the developers’ expense. Residents cannot be held responsible for this, and cannot be expected to pay the bills to verify that somebody else’s construction site conforms to the set regulations.

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