At the time of writing of this article, the Kamra tal-Periti and the Building and Construction Authority had found themselves at an impasse.
Most recently, amendments have been passed on the legal notice regarding the Avoidance of Damages to Third Parties, which has created a shift in the onus on the Perit, and seems to have created an arbitrary policing wherein works on different end of the spectrum, from a simple internal alteration, to a large scale development, are being vetted in much the same way.
This has brought with it an endless plethora of questions being raised by Periti and our Client’s alike – speaking as a Perit now, it is also quite damaging to our profession as a whole, to have been guiding clients one way for a period of time, only for a new policy or change in legislation to spontaneously appear with no forewarning or explanation on the implications, and for the Client to find out with the Perit simultaneously.
The proverbial egg on one’s face in such cases, is often further exacerbated by the fact that Clients now have to take up insurances, place bank guarantees and await open ended review periods of the documents submitted by their periti, prior to beginning any works even on a simple internal alteration within their own property, with no risk of any form of damages befalling third parties, despite prior indications.
Unfortunately, we have once again borne witness to common theme is our national mode d’emploi – “jew nejja, jew mahruqa”.
It is understandable that there would be resistance to change in an industry that is as large and as old as Construction, and that after decades of no regulation, the impact of any new form of controlling would cease matters from proceeding as they always had been. This, I strongly believe, is a good thing!
We couldn’t keep going the way we were. However, the changes that have come about in the last three years within the industry have been, aside from significant, very instant. There has been no transient period for assimilation.
“There has been no form of paradigm shift because there hasn’t been the chance to adopt a new mentality from education or increased awareness.”
It has simply been an imposed change with near immediate affect calling for an overnight Darwinian adaptation.
And adapt we did. Indeed, the time for dilly dallying had long come to pass by the time the legal notice was published. The need for enforcement of the protection of Third Parties was long overdue and there was the need to ensure that proper practices were being adopted to ensure the protection and safety of those impacted by the works.
However, oftentimes this has only boiled down to an academic exercise in producing the necessary paperwork that is required by the legal notice, with no tangible change being seen.
We still see buildings being taken down by means of a mini-excavator placed on the roof; we still believe that using a rotary saw cut to separate one site from those adjacent to it solves all problems arising from excavations with large pneumatic machinery; and we still see storey’s deep excavations vertically flush against adjacent roads or buildings.
The BCA has in fact tried to introduce a review method for method statements and documentation submitted, however in recent times, this author feels it has become a true case of the blind leading the blind.
Oftentimes, the reviews returned are simply a checklist assessment – items are sometimes requested, such as the verification of load transfer to foundations, when the proposed development entails the change of use of a space , or the shifting of a doorway with no impact on the building itself.
Our industry is vast, and projects and developments vary significantly, in terms of their impact, their costs, their duration, the stakeholders involved, the organisations behind them. The review of a development can never be simply boiled down to a simple checklist of items, carried out blindly – one might hazard implying that maybe these reviews are carried out by persons of a less technical background than administrative one, albeit such allegations are unfounded, and the implication should be taken to be more cautionary than accusatory or inflammatory.
Improvements have taken place, but progress needs to be carried out in the most mutually beneficial means towards the primary stakeholders, namely the regulator, the regulated and the third parties.
In the coming week following the writing of this article, the BCA and the KTP will be independently holding talks relating to the latest changes adopted – each with certainly differing scopes.
Unfortunately, the rhetoric is always the same. Therefore, I ask the administrative powers that be, to get the bickering and finger pointing out of the way as soon as possible,
to set pride and position aside, to step away from the veil of bureaucratic procedures and agendas, and to sit
around a table and resolve tangible changes that the industry needs;
1. Proper training and education for our workers and constructors
2. A sustainable and transparent means of licensing;
3. Identifying acceptable methods of assessment and allowing professionals to choose the most suitable means depending on the project;
4. Adopting internationally recognised methods for categorising projects and adapting accordingly to those needs;
5. Create proper channels for discourse, and accessible and transparent platforms to facilitate the regulatory process;
In the meantime, I invite my colleagues and the managerial collegiate in the construction industry to maintain our professionalism, and not get bogged down by the need to satisfy the paper trail, and to be mindful of the technical, practical, and realistic solutions our Clients and Projects needs to ensure safe, timely and reliable execution of works.
Second Edition June/July
Disclaimer: This article doesn’t necessarily reflects the opinion of the chamber but is exclusively the opinion of the author.