AUTHORITY BLAMES ‘HARDWARE ISSUES’ OVER BELATED EAPPLICATIONS PORTAL LAUNCH

Authority Blames ‘hardware issues’ Over Belated eApplications Portal Launch

Here at 77 Great Estates, we’re always keeping our eyes peeled for the latest updates about Real Estate in Malta and Gozo. As of recently, the Planning Authority had been criticized by local architects due to the belated eApplications launch.

The Chamber of Architects has called the Planning Authority’s lack of formal communication ‘unacceptable’ with reference to its eApplications portal which was supposed to be accessible at the beginning of last week. Yet despite being called out on the non-functioning online portal by architects, the Authority claimed that they had been experiencing some ‘hardware issues’ for the past couple of weeks.

As reported by the Chamber, towards the end of last year, the Planning Authority broadcasted that it would be débuting an advanced version of its online application portal. The previous system was allegedly shut down on 23rd December 2016, and the Authority established that the new version would be online and functional from 2nd January 2017.

Nevertheless, the Chamber claims that the revamped portal has not happened and that, consequently, architects have been unable to submit new applications, download information from ongoing or decided applications, submit correspondence and drawings to the Authority, or provide their clients with services related to the eApplications portal, as they would have otherwise been able to do.

A recent statement revealed that the Chamber stated that its council has repetitively requested the Planning Authority to deliver a clear statement to affirm when the system will be fully functional, and to notify architects and the general public as to how it will be tackling cases where deadlines, which are bound by legal time limits, could not be met, due to the lack of functionality of the portal. The statement was issued in order “to advise the public of the lack of accessibility being afforded to the profession, impeding architects from successfully and confidently submitting and accessing documentation.”

While the Chamber acknowledged that “one would expect some minor teething problems with any new system”, it insisted that the lack of formal communication by the Authority as unacceptable. This is especially true because of its daily communication with the Authority on the matter over the past few days. In keeping with legislature, applications are dealt with exclusively through such an online portal, thus the functionality – or lack thereof, of such a system is dependent on its efficiency.

It is for this reason that the Chamber called for the Planning Authority to take all required actions to guarantee that the system returns to functionality without any further delay. Moreover, the Authority has been requested to issue the appropriate statements and assurances, with specific regard to the issue of overdue deadlines.

Meanwhile, the Planning Authority has issued its own statement, and insists that it has been working to generate a new and upgraded version of eApplications to provide users with improved functionality and performance.

Additionally, the Authority appealed that it had successfully move over to the new portal but that “hardware issues” hindered certain aspects of it.
According to the statement, “the Authority planned to use its legislative inactive period, over the Christmas shutdown, to switch off the old eApplications system and migrate over 5 million records to the new system.” Despite the fact that the migration took a significant amount of time, the new system did indeed go live on the scheduled date of 2nd January 2017. What’s more, users were able to use the portal to view documents immediately. Regrettably, the Authority is experiencing some hardware issues, “which have set back the programming of some features of the new system,” it said.

The Authority stated that architects and consultees were able to submit correspondence soon after launch, but admitted how architects are still facing restricted functionality. Nevertheless, it added, functionality is expected to return to normal by this week. It’s important to note that The Authority advised all clients, particularly architects, who are undergoing problems due to the change-over to submit an email to the Authority on eapps@pa.org.mt.

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