Construction reform in action

TODAY, following much controversy, tragedy, a public inquiry and the Quintano report — as well as subsequent measures and the kickstart of a reform — it was announced that the transition of the Building and Construction Authority from the agency is complete. 

As part of government’s wider commitment to regulate the building and construction industry, in preparation for the licensing of contractors, a registration process was also launched. spoke to the newly-appointed Chairperson of the BCA Board, Maria Schembri — an architect and structural engineer — who highlighted the ambitious goals of the authority for the coming years. With twelve years experience, and mostly on-site, she has a good understanding of the whole picture of the construction industry.

Needless to say, construction is a challenging sector. “One must understand where the sector came from, where it is now and where we want it to go. Our mission is to split the vision into three subsections being short, medium and long – term plans. Short term plans include compliance to minimum standard, market research of what is out there, the neighbourhood scheme, and stakeholder’s obligations. The above is all under discussion and will commence in the immediate future.

Medium-term plans are related to education, licencing, certification, recognition of skills and the national building code. All these will be introduced in the near future but will require a transitional period hence why we are calling these the medium-term goals. Long-term goals are sustainable development, audits of current policies and their results and best practises. The long-term goal is to achieve a construction sector with a high standard and best practice from all stakeholders involved. This reform might bring about challenges, but it is a necessary one. The need for this reform is felt by all stakeholders in the industry and the general public,” she said, explaining that solutions to these challenges are well within reach.

The long-term goal is to achieve a construction sector with a high standard and best practice from all stakeholders involved.

Within the reform, Schembri believes that an important element is education. “Having all the stakeholders, say developers, contractors, architects, project managers and all the individuals in the sector skilled would elevate the sector significantly. Having the workers certified from the health and safety aspect up to their trade would again result in heightened standards, and raising the bar.” The national building code, the neighbourhood scheme, the health and safety card, the contractor’s register, sustainable development, best practices, stakeholders’ obligations are all part of this, she explained. “Many significant changes will take place leading the industry to become an example of how the construction industry to become an example of how the construction industry should be.”

Many argue that mistakes were made, and the reform is overdue. “Acknowledging this allows one to understand and plan better. One has to plan ahead by taking the time to reflect and think through what steps can be taken to avoid unwanted results. One of the first steps is awareness. You cannot fix something you are not aware of, therefore auditing all decisions and analysing all outcomes helps you acknowledge any needed changes. Having said that, in every decision taken, one should audit, reframe the error, analyse the outcome, and put lessons learnt into practice. Any decision has to be reviewed in progress and changes needed implemented.”

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Dr. Mark Said
Dr. Mark Said
2 years ago

Another great and revolutionary positive reform by this government after years of inaction and ‘laissez-faire‘ by previous administrations. Kudos to those behind this reform.

Wilfred Camilleri
Wilfred Camilleri
2 years ago
Reply to  Dr. Mark Said

After ten year in power, the present government has also employed a ‘laissez-faire‘ attitude, if not more so. Judging by the mayhem in the construction industry and the rampant destruction of what’s left of fast dwindling open spaces over the past ten years, your comment is extremely partisan and blinkered….

Wilfred Camilleri
Wilfred Camilleri
2 years ago

Of course, unless there is actual enforcement of set standards, including punitive fines and jail time when necessary, all is for naught and the exercise will simply turn out to be a window washing, futile exercise. Time will tell!