Gov­ern­ment opens le­gal pro­ceed­ings against Skan­ska over ‘de­fec­tive’ Mater Dei Hos­pi­tal con­crete

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Gabriel Schem­bri

The gov­ern­ment has opened le­gal pro­ceed­ings against Skan­ska, the com­pany that was re­spon­si­ble for the build­ing and seis­mic de­sign of Mater Dei Hos­pi­tal, Health Min­is­ter Chris Fearne said yes­ter­day.

Ad­dress­ing the me­dia, he said this is a na­tional is­sue and the gov­ern­ment wants all stake­hold­ers to pull the same rope.

He said that the ma­jor prob­lems the gov­ern­ment is con­cerned about are the de­fec­tive ma­te­rial used in the build­ing and its seis­mic de­sign.

Stan­dards were not met as re­quired and as a re­sult the hos­pi­tal life­span is not what was orig­i­nally ex­pected.

This also means that there are re­stric­tions when it comes to ex­pand­ing the com­plex, he said.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Peter Grech is lead­ing a team of lawyers to as­sist the gov­ern­ment, but Mr Fearne also said there is an in­ter­na­tional law firm in­volved which had pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence with such cases.

Mr Fearne said the con­tract be­tween the gov­ern­ment and Skan­ska was first signed in 1995, en­trust­ing the com­pany to build the new hos­pi­tal.

The works started in Oc­to­ber that same year. In Fe­bru­ary 2000, the con­tract was changed from con­struc­tion to ‘build­ing and de­sign’.

On May 2014, the gov­ern­ment had de­cided to build two new wards, one of which on top of the emer­gency de­part­ment. How­ever, when con­duct­ing the safety re­port, it was found that the con­crete was not of a high qual­ity. Arup had pub­lished a re­port which con­firmed the prob­lems and stated that the prob­lem was not lim­ited to the emer­gency ward.

Skan­ska had asked for more in­for­ma­tion while in­sist­ing it was not in­ter­ested in reach­ing an agree­ment.

Min­is­ter Fearne ex­plained that a waiver which al­lowed Skan­ska to get away with €200,000 in dam­ages caused to wa­ter reser­voir which also had de­fec­tive con­crete made life harder for the gov­ern­ment to build a case. Af­ter con­sult­ing with the lawyers, Min­is­ter Fearne said that the gov­ern­ment will be con­test­ing this waiver.

The lat­est cor­re­spon­dence be­tween the gov­ern­ment and Skan­ska hap­pened three weeks ago with the lat­ter re­fus­ing to meet up with the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Fearne, the com­pany is fac­ing charges of fraud in Mex­ico. The min­is­ter did not di­vulge how much money the Mal­tese gov­ern­ment will be ask­ing for. How­ever, he said that the amount is more than the €30 mil­lion which was pre­vi­ously men­tioned when es­ti­mat­ing the dam­age.

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