The construction industry is firmly under the microscope as buildings collapse and bodies pile up
Incessant development, deaths, and the collapse of three buildings drove hundreds to turn up for a protest against the “developers’ dictatorship” on the island.
“We will not stop fighting for justice. Not just for ourselves but every single person that has lost their homes! We want justice!” a resident passionately told the crowd.
Led by the residents who have lost their homes, activists and people from all sides of the political divide turned up in their droves to make their voice heard.
“I’m so thankful for the number of people who came to show their support,” one resident said, holding back tears.
“It’s been two weeks since the apartment block I live in collapsed, and we still have no idea what is going to happen.”
Starting outside St Luke’s Hospital, the march passed two buildings that have collapsed in the area, with the crowd singing “You’ll never walk alone” by the most recent site on Triq Mimosa, at the behest of one of the residents.
“This is why we are here. This is how the construction industry is treating the people of Malta.”
The rally marched towards the headquarters of the Malta Developers’ Association, placards in hand, and demanded comprehensive reform to the industry.
“We came here not because we are red or blue, we came here because we are Maltese who are fed up of the current situation, developers have had absolute control over past and present governments for ages,” Moviment Graffitti’s Andre Callus explained to Lovin Malta.
Callus also referenced the many injuries and deaths that plague the industry, with a Malian man recently passing away after falling four storeys on a government-owned construction site.
The rally comes as the consultation period for reform to excavation and demolition works takes place. However, demonstrators are hoping for wholesale change for an industry that has long acted in complete disregard of regulation.
The activists have a long list of complaints against the sector beyond the severe issues surrounding health and safety, with overdevelopment, the sale of public land to cash-rich developers, and the plans to build an undersea tunnel are critical points of contention.
The activists are calling for a limit on the number of planning permits issued, tighter restrictions on permitted hours for construction and the serious enforcement of existing laws.
In their demands, the activists also called for sites to be audited by an independent authority at the developer’s cost.
It remains to be seen whether the government or the MDA have taken notice. However, this outpouring of anger may finally wake up authorities to take strong and much-needed action in the construction industry.