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Varyl Begg residents raise safety fears after construction accident

Residents of Varyl Begg estate have expressed concern about the safety of the construction site for the new comprehensive schools after liquid concrete was accidentally spilt from a crane onto garage roofs and an adjacent road.

No one was hurt in the accident, which nevertheless damaged a car and the roofs of two garages.

Varyl Begg 2

Construction company Casais has made good the damage to the property and the vehicle, insisting yesterday that it would implement additional safety measures to address the concerns.

But the incident highlights the impact of construction work on everyday life for many people in Gibraltar, alongside the challenges faced by companies tasked with building large structures in tight, complicated spaces in a community where land is at a premium.

The Waterport site has barriers around most of its perimeter, creating a safety buffer between construction work and nearby public areas.

But its southern side is flush to a row of garages and a road in Varyl Begg estate, meaning construction work is taking place in a very tight space in which cranes are moving heavy materials just metres from where people live.

Residents have been concerned about noise and dust in the area for months but the incident on Monday evening has now brought their safety fears to the fore.

Varyl Begg

“We were very lucky that no one was in the area when the accident happened, otherwise it could have been a tragedy,” one resident told the Chronicle.

“Something needs to be done to make this area safer.”

Yesterday Casais project manager Jose Pacheco da Cruz said the incident was the result of human error but acknowledged the concerns of people living in the area.

He said that even before the accident, Casais had planned to build a protective scaffold over the garages but that it had required numerous permits from various government agencies before this could be installed.

Those permits were now in place and the scaffold would be erected in the coming days, Mr Pacheco said.

“We take safety very seriously on all our sites and people can rest assured that the area will be made completely safe,” he said.

Casais is building two new schools for the Gibraltar Government on the Waterport site.

The company was awarded the £52m contract for the schools just last April but the work is progressing fast.

“The contractor had already secured a permit to erect a scaffold over the garages to provide a safe platform for the completion of the façade,” a government spokesman said.

“This scaffold is in transit to Gibraltar and it is anticipated that it will be erected next Monday.”

“The use of the tower crane and hopper has been prohibited along the south elevation until this additional protection is installed.”

“The incident has already been reported to the Factory Inspector.”

“The government is therefore entirely satisfied that these measures will mitigate any risk and that the works will continue to be undertaken safely.”