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