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Works must inspect all building sites

By Vision Reporter

Added 23rd October 2008 03:00 AM

IT is a pity that seven people were killed and one critically injured after an excavation wall collapsed at the construction site of the NSSF Pension Tower on Lumumba Avenue in Kampala.

Kakungulu-Mayambala

IT is a pity that seven people were killed and one critically injured after an excavation wall collapsed at the construction site of the NSSF Pension Tower on Lumumba Avenue in Kampala.

The exact cause of the collapse of the retaining wall could not be readily established. There are conflicting views.
Some of the workers blamed the accident on heavy rains which had weakened the soil. The Police have dismissed this theory and instead attributed the tragedy to poor workmanship.

The Roko constructors say all standard safety measures had been put in place and were being adhered to. Roko blame the collapse of the wall on “erosion and escalation.”

However, Dr Jackson Mwakali, the Engineers Registration Board chairman says it seems the excavations were being done without supporting the soil, which may have caused the landslide.
He is further quoted as saying some of the site workers told him they had been excavating, then supporting the soil later. Yet it would have been the reverse, according to him.

He said the side that collapsed was totally unprotected.
Suzan Kataike, the works ministry spokesperson, says before construction, the ministry had tested the soil to establish if it could hold a building of that size and had found that the excavation wall was weak.

Then, what did the ministry do after finding out that the wall was weak? I thought the ministry would take some measures to safeguard lives of the site workers after this discovery.

Kataike says the ministry will investigate and the findings will determine the course of action.

This is not only ad hoc but too late. Prompt action after discovering that the excavation wall was weak would have saved lives. In a way therefore, the Ministry of Works contributed to the death of the workers, just like the poor workmanship of the site engineers and the contractors.

In order to avoid similar accidents in future, the Ministry of Works and KCC should execute their mandate of inspecting all major construction sites.
This does not mean they should take over the sites, but just check regularly to ascertain if the procedures are being followed.

The writer is a candidate for Doctor of the Science of Law,
The University of Arizona, USA

Works must inspect all building sites

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