Editor's Comment

Councils must enforce law on building

OFFICIALS from the Fire Brigade with Liege Construction workers at Woodlands Stadium after the incident. PICTURE: DIANA CHIPEPO

THE collapse of a wall that crushed one man to death and seriously injured three others at Lusaka’s Woodlands Stadium is unfortunate.
The incident happened last Friday when the wall gave way and fell, claiming the victims who were nearby.
When such incidents happen, they leave all feeling sad because lives are lost needlessly.
Undoubtedly, this loss of life could be prevented if proper measures were put in place in the first place.
The collapse of the wall brings to the fore a number of issues surrounding the state of some of the buildings in our city, if not in the country as a whole.
There are some buildings which leave one wondering how they took shape if, at the slightest blow of the wind, the blocks come crumbling down.
The construction of any building is regulated by the local authority, at the most. It is the local authority that in the first instance allocates land for people to build, either residences or commercial properties.
This is done in order to allow for proper planning of a locality and for the efficient supply of services by a local authority.
Furthermore, the local authority leaves some areas for further development and expansion of a locality.
In their regulation of the construction process, local authorities give the final go-ahead on the use of the building by ensuring that the edifice meets all the requirements and it is suitable for use.
However, this is where some of the buildings could be found wanting, if only our local authorities were firm enough in their role of regulation.
What we see now is an indiscriminate construction of buildings, which has left our city skyline with a distorted shape.
Anyone who has been to one of the tallest buildings in Lusaka and has had sight of the city from there would be shocked with what they see from such an elevated point.
All this points to the local authorities’ failure to properly regulate the construction of buildings. Most cities in Zambia are an eyesore because the quality of buildings is, at best, poor.
While the local authorities are not entirely to blame, those who are making buildings should also take due care to ensure they construct long-lasting structures which do not endanger the lives of people who use them.
The failure to follow laid down procedures as demanded by the local authorities is now becoming common and it is not strange that some structures are found in undesignated spots reserved for underground pipes from service providers.
Sometimes the structures are weak because contractors resort to using unsuitable or cheap materials so that they can cut on the costs.
It is said that cheap is expensive and this is true in most cases. It can be costly to have a structure that will not stand for a long time or one that will end in the loss of life, as in the case of the wall at Woodlands Stadium.
People who are building should realise they are putting up structures that should stand for many years to come as well as add beauty to the city or town where they live.
Adherence to building requirements is of utmost importance and everyone putting up a structure has to ensure this.
Our local authorities also need to take their rightful place in ensuring that buildings are of proper habitable standards.
We cannot continue losing life because of the negligence of contractors.
As for the Woodlands Stadium death, authorities should thoroughly and incorruptly investigate and ensure whoever is culpable is dealt with appropriately.

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