THE Grenfell Tower fire disaster, which swept through a 24-storey, 67 metre-high tower block flats in North Kensington, West London, and resulted in
at least 79 fatalities and over 70 injuries on June 14, 2017, must be an eye-opener for Zambian construction authorities.
External cladding was cited as a possible cause of the rapid spread of the Grenfell Tower fire. Experts said the gap between the cladding and the insulation worked like a chimney to spread the fire. The cladding could be seen burning and melting, causing additional speculation that it was not made of fire-resistant material. The cladding went up in flames like matches.
As the Green Party, we believe Zambia lacks capability to quench such fires, so the best way out is to take precautionary measures now instead of waiting for a fire disaster to occur. The Zambia National Construction Council should move in to test the susceptibility of the cladding to fires and possibly ban use of such materials if found risky.
We believe that with poor firefighting capabilities in all cities across the country, it is high time that the National Construction Council rethought use of aluminium composite rain screen cladding, which is used in part to improve the appearance of the buildings.
The Ministry of Justice, National Prosecution Authority, Energy Regulation Board head office, the refurbished Society House, are among several buildings in Lusaka and elsewhere in the country where aluminium composite rain screen cladding has been used to improve the appearance of the buildings. These buildings are potential fire hazards.
Green Party president