Substandard construction

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THURSDAY’S tragedy in Karachi has once again highlighted the phenomenon of unchecked construction of substandard buildings across the country. In Golimar area of the city, a ground plus five-storey building, where another floor was being constructed, collapsed and triggered the collapse of two other neighbouring buildings, resulting in the death of at least 14 people and leaving more than 17 injured.
This is the second incident taking place in the port-city in a span of less than 30 days as last month a ground-plus-five storey residential building constructed on 80-square-yard plot in Lyari’s Usmanabad developed cracks before tilting dangerously. In February as well, eight people were killed when a three-storey building collapsed in remote Muzzafargarh district of Punjab. There is absolutely no justification for such accidents if building codes, which are there in all the cities and towns, are strictly adhered to but these are compromised with the connivance of the officials concerned. Right from approval of the house design (map) to completion certificate, there is a vicious cycle of palm-greasing that ultimately leads to loss of precious lives. Some of the main causes for building collapses are bad design, faulty construction, foundation failure, extraordinary loads, unexpected failure modes or a combination of causes. In most of cases, the fault lies in building contractors who often do not build houses as per drawings and specifications and use substandard material in construction. There are thousands of new and old buildings in different cities and towns that can be described as hazardous if proper surveys are carried out. Federal, provincial and local governments ought to ensure fuller compliance of building by-laws to prevent such tragedies and this can be done by honest supervision and surveillance and taking strict action against contractors concerned.