HomeEditorial CommentConstruction rules need tightening

Construction rules need tightening

There is a reason why buildings frequently collapse in many cities in Africa but not in Harare.

The Standard Editorial

The city has solid regulations governing the construction of commercial buildings and residential houses, some dating back to the colonial era.

Although these regulations have been criticised as working against poor people, they have ensured that Harare, unlike other disorderly African cities, boasts of well-planned structures that can withstand severe weather patterns and the test of time.

Sadly, this is becoming history as these time-tested regulations are no longer being enforced by the Harare City Council.

Like mushrooms, illegal settlements are sprouting at every open space and the city fathers lack the political will to stop this trend.

Sub-standard commercial buildings are also being erected in Harare in broad daylight.

We wonder if building inspectors still have a role to play in the construction of houses and commercial buildings since nowadays, anyone can pitch up at an undeveloped piece of land, even wetlands, and start construction work.

Many buildings are being constructed at breakneck speed and do not meet city bylaws governing the construction of high-rise buildings. It doesn’t require an engineer to discern that some of these structures are a disaster waiting to happen.

We reported a few weeks ago about a multi-storey building that had no protective sheeting to protect people walking past it from falling bricks but nothing was done about it.

Not surprisingly, early last week a building collapsed in Harare leaving one person dead and three others injured.

The mishap that left mangled metal and other debris littering a section of Orr Street at Mohammed Mussa Wholesalers on Tuesday should be a wake-up call to the authorities.

It is only a matter of time before a major disaster happens in Harare if authorities fail to stop the erection of sub-standard structures in the city.

What is also worrying is that the city now allows the construction of houses with mud bricks, another recipe for disaster as they are not strong enough.

Without regulation, Harare will end up like other African cities where collapsing buildings kill many people each year.

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