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The Man behind the collapse of Kampala Buildings


The Man behind the collapse of Kampala Buildings

The recently collapsed Makerere building

The recently collapsed Makerere building

Just like other African countries Ugandan is so blessed as a nation that we rarely ever experience natural disasters such as earthquakes, or Tornadoes. Now, the irony is that despite the absence of all these collateral damaging natural disasters, our buildings still collapse. Can someone raise their hands to tell us why this is happening?

Do we have an explanation as to why the building at Makerere Hill Road and other buildings in Kampala have been bowing down  to the force of gravity claiming lives and destroying property?

Every time a building goes down a message is being sent to the nation but because we are busy engrossed in the blame game we miss the message. It is time to listen to the message and get structural solutions to structural problems. Just because we don’t have serious natural disasters to bring down our buildings, we simply created our own version through sheer negligence. Whatever is happening is a case of our own man made infrastructural disasters.

Academicians, building professionals, politicians and citizens in general know exactly why buildings collapse but what beats my understanding is that even when we know what causes buildings to collapse they still collapse.

If these are not manmade disasters that we deliberately create then what are they?  No one has the moral authority to convince me that these are sudden events because they are not. If the probability of an event happening is one then that is not a sudden event. It is something we all know it must happen and it’s just a question of time.

Faulty construction methodology, use of incompetent contractors, defective design/structure, inadequate supervision and monitoring, sub-standard building materials, non-compliance with specifications and standards by Developers,  endemic poor work ethics, falling standard of education, bribery and corruption among others may be mentioned among the causes building collapse. If we all know this then what have we done about it?

John Mwangi a construction foreman said that in civil engineering the main reason of buildings easily collapsing is poor workmanship. For example the only thing that holds a building is just to make sure that it is resting or built on its weight as for places where there is no earth quake.

Other reasons are blasts, poor concrete rationing, poor iron bars or steel fixing, poor form works, or natural disasters. The Passage of time is also another reason, though it may be challenged by the fact that the buildings that are collapsing have only existed for less than ten years.

If traditional engineers never built collapsing buildings why do modern engineers to day have their buildings collapsing even before they reach home from the site?  Is there something to do with the current education system that is producing this new species of engineers? Is it the lack of career engineers to day?  Where is government in this paradox?

Government has a role to play in making our buildings safe. Government management and control measures to stop avoidable building collapse in the state should also be investigated. There is need to establish an answer to the question “where do we go wrong in our building construction” is it at the pre-construction, construction or post-construction stage of the buildings life span.

Let’s not look for people to blame but embark on a complete surgery of the entire system and fix the problem because more lives and property are lost. If we keep hunting for the man behind the collapse of buildings we may not be able to solve the bigger problem. Instead we shall waste our useful time fighting symptoms and not treating the disease.



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