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It is only February and we already have a strong contender for phrase of the year. It is highlighted in the Times of Malta report which I am reproducing in full below. My commentary follows afterwards.

Building façade, scaffolding collapse onto Gżira street
Rescue officials comb through rubble at hotel development site on Triq Belvedere

Scaffolding and the façade of a construction site crashed onto Triq Belvedere in Gżira on Tuesday afternoon, missing pedestrians by metres. The police confirmed that the collapse was reported at around 1.30pm. Rescue workers were immediately on site searching for any injured people.

Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri said on Facebook that according to initial reports, no one was harmed.

The site is being developed into a 116-room, nine-floor hotel, according to a planning permit issued in 2021 (PA 08659/21).

Developer Kris Calleja and architect Colin Zammit applied to demolish various properties on Triq Belvedere to build the hotel, which will include a new façade identical to the existing one in the interest of “maintaining visual rhythm” of the streetscape. 

According to publicly available documents, the Building and Construction Authority issued a stop notice on Tuesday afternoon after the collapse, “except to render the site safe”.

Eyewitness recounts collapse

A man who was walking in Triq Belvedere at the time of the collapse said he was roughly 10 metres away when the scaffolding surrounding the building gave way and the masonry of the facade followed swiftly, crashing into the balcony of the house across the street and spilling into the street below.

“I was listening to music on headphones but the sound the crash made was huge and there was dust billowing everywhere,” said the Gżira resident, who asked not to be named.

He added that he and another pedestrian who also witnessed the collapse were frozen in shock and consoled each other after potentially being seriously injured.

“The worst thing is that it’s almost not surprising that this happened because it seems to be happening everywhere,” the witness continued.

“This building has been in this state – just a façade holding on for dear life – for ages. It should be either demolished or preserved, but not left in this sorry state.”

He added that he was grateful it did not appear that anyone had been injured.

“It could have turned out much worse for me if I was just a couple of metres closer, or even worse – it could have happened later in the day when I take the same walk with my children,” he said.

Project was cleared for works last November

Publicly available documents show that the hotel project was initially recommended for refusal by a PA case officer, who deemed it to be too high and with too many floors.

The PA case officer also noted that the proposed building did not comply with the necessary sanitary regulations.

However, the PA planning board later decided that the reasons for the refusal had been subsequently addressed by the applicant and voted to approve the permit.

According to publicly available documents, the site was cleared for work to begin last November.


The terrified bystander who was just a few metres away from the scaffolding and facade that collapsed in Triq Belvedere in Gżira accidentally coined the perfect phrase to describe not just the events that unfolded yesterday, but the entire construction and development industry in Malta.

“Just a facade hanging on for dear life.”

Because, let’s face it – what is our planning regime if not a facade that appears to provide some semblance of order to the lawless wasteland that our environment has morphed into? The facade has been crumbling for years, and it is only becoming worse over time.

In spite of years and years of vociferous public opposition towards the lawlessness that characterises the construction and development sector, the Labour government has done fuck all to effectively curb the industry’s abusive practices. It has opted to occupy key authorities with party loyalists who are more than willing to turn a blind eye to obvious abuse and pass legislation that is designed to fail via a lack of enforcement.

The Labour Party is not interested in reining in the construction industry. On the contrary, it actively participates in it, and many individuals within the party actively profit from the status quo through their own private investments in property speculation.

Let’s start with yesterday’s disaster in Triq il-Belvedere. So far, I have not managed to confirm any significant information about the individual who filed the planning application for the collapsed site. The man’s name is Kris Bajada. If anyone has any information that is relevant to the public interest, please come forward by contacting this website directly.

What I do know with certainty is that the architect who was hired for the project is Maniera Group’s Colin Zammit, a Labour Party insider who has direct business ties with several former and current Cabinet ministers, including through an irregular direct order that had been issued directly to him by disgraced former energy minister Konrad Mizzi, an appointment on the board of the University of Malta’s faculty for the built environment at the request of education minister Clifton Grima, and being hired as foreign affairs minister Ian Borg’s architect in relation to the latter’s illegal residential development in Rabat.

Earlier this week, there was also another case which received less media attention but nonetheless deserves to be highlighted.

The Times of Malta reported that the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) ordered a contractor named Wilson Mifsud to clear hazardous waste that he had been storing illegally in a field in Wied San Anton on the outskirts of Żebbuġ. Times of Malta missed a couple of important bits of context in its article, a matter which I am rectifying below.

Wilson Mifsud, the contractor who was caught red-handed dumping medical waste in a skip, is the cousin of Labour Party secretary and architect William Lewis, and has been raking hundreds of thousands of euros in direct orders ever since the Labour Party was elected to power. His business partner in one of his cleaning firms is Valerio Camilleri, one of the shareholders behind the infamous Construct Furniture.

Construct Furniture is the company which is still facing involuntary homicide charges in relation to the death of Matthew Bartolo. I had written a long-form piece about Matthew’s story, which you can read here.

These two incidents are connected directly to the Labour Party and the insiders who have a premium seat at the public finances trough. In January, I published a major investigation about the Labour Party’s betrayal of Santa Luċija through its direct involvement in three major development projects which are set to alter the character of the idyllic locality forever.

And where is our prime minister throughout all of this, you may ask?

Busy finishing off his highly irregular boutique hotel operation in Xewkija, of course. Because you know, it is perfectly normal to have a hotelier in a position of almost unlimited executive power. After all, when did that ever go wrong for anyone anywhere?

It is a fool’s errand to even think of attempting to convince the Labour Party to engage in a serious conversation about the urgent overhaul that is required to bring widespread abuse within the construction and planning regimes to an end once and for all. It is a party in which almost everyone, from the rank and file to the highest ranking holders of state office, is actively involved in the profit-making machinery of these industries.

Throughout my time as a member of Moviment Graffitti, I’ve witnessed first-hand the suffering of families whose homes were reduced to rubble by callous, reckless developers in nearby properties, families who’ve lost loved ones and have suffered incredible hardships in the process. Rest assured that every single one of these individuals, rightfully so, first attempted to appeal to authorities before being left with no option but to become activists themselves.

Rest assured that the pleas of these suffering families, whose pain is directly attributable to the state’s failure to protect their lives, were ignored because the industries in question speak a language that this government and its representatives are far more receptive to: money.

As for whether you can rest assured that there will be adequate safeguards should a development show up on your doorstep and spend the next few dozen months of your life terrorising you and your loved ones, well, with prime ministers and ministers like these, I’d be sleeping with one eye open if I were you.

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