Crippling construction waste dumping costs behind road works standstill, MDA says

Most road works around Malta have come to a halt because many contractors can no longer afford to fulfil the paramaters of their tenders under present day costs, BusinessToday has learned 


Most road works around Malta have come to a halt because many contractors can no longer afford to fulfil the paramaters of their tenders under present day costs, BusinessToday has learned.

Malta Developers Association (MDA)  president Sandro Chetcuti said that intense discussions with the government are currently underway, as the construction industry was struggling to find spaces where to dump waste and debris at affordable prices.

He said that a number of contractors who had won tenders for road works had based their quotes on waste dumping costs that were in place up to a couple of years ago.

“Some of these of contractors had based their tenders on construction waste costs of between €5 and €8 per tonne,” he said. “Today, however, quarry owners charge €12 per tonne, and that is putting a strain on contractors’ budgets.”

Chetcuti said that many of these contractors were only getting a very low profit and could therefore end up even losing money if they kept on dumping construction waste at today’s prices.

The €12/tonne disposal fee was imposed by the government last year, after government roads agency, Infrastructure Malta, had ordered all road works to stop because of a lack of dumping space and the high price set by the few quarry owners who were accepting the waste.

BusinessToday is informed that the discussions with the government revolve around two main recommendations: land reclamation and exporting construction waste.

“The ideal solution would be to provide these quarry owners with more land where they can start to recycle the construction waste,” Chetcuti said.

“Without recycling the waste, we will soon run out of quarry space anyway, and we will be back to square one.”

If the quarry owners are to start recycling the construction waste dumped in their sites, they need space for specialised equipment and storage - space that they currently do not have.

The MDA is therefore pushing for the quaary owners to be allotted adjacent land where they could start recycling waste.

Another proposal being put forward i for the construction waste to be exported.

“We import some of the material we use in construction, so we could make arrangements with those we import this material from to start exporting our construction waste to them,” Chetcuti said.

Chetcuti had warned some weeks ago that unless an imminent and enduring solution to the dumping of construction waste was found, development would come to an “almost complete standstill.”

The MDA has always insisted it was looking for a long-lasting solution, which would have immediate results and not jeopardise the livelihood of one of the most productive sectors of the Maltese economy.

It is insisting that any solutions put forward should be based on the fundamental principle of a level-playing field for all members and stakeholders, stating it will strongly defend its members if selective expropriation measures are taken.

Last year, Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia acknowledged the ongoing issues surrounding landfilling quarries, stating the issue had been put on the back burner by numerous government administrations.

He had then vowed to provide solutions in his time heading the environment ministry. “In this same way we solved the issue surrounding Maghtab, I look to put a stop to this matter,” he said.

Farrugia did not exclude disposing construction waste at sea. However, he had insisted that there was still ample quarry space for the dumping of building waste, but that not all quarries were open to accepting debris disposal.

More in Business