• Thursday, Nov 21, 2019
  • Last Update : 06:48 am

Is Rajuk’s inspection of building code violations an eyewash?

  • Published at 12:58 am April 7th, 2019
web-rajuk team-building
One of the 24 teams of Rajuk during a drive in Dhaka city on Monday, April 1, 2019 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Interestingly, none of the teams includes any expert on fires, structures, or electricity, an issue that has irked experts

After the March 28 Banani fire in a high-rise office building that killed 26 people, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) formed 24 teams and deployed them across the capital city to verify building code violations at high-rises of 10 storeys or more.

Though the campaign ordered by the Housing and Public Works Ministry was given a 15-day deadline, a Rajuk director has said they may submit their findings to the ministry by Sunday, the seventh day of inspection.

Interestingly, none of the teams includes any expert on fires, structures, or electricity, an issue that has irked experts.

Many experts have termed the campaign a ‘farce’ and criticized Rajuk for a ‘mad rush’ to be done with an issue that is related to the safety of millions of lives in the city.

It takes at least a month to inspect a building thoroughly, said some experts, while others estimated the time to be at least two weeks.

A former Rajuk chief engineer, preferring anonymity, said inspecting a facility requires at least 15 days.

“But inspecting countless high-rises in such a short period of time may not be a good move,” he observed.

When contacted, Rajuk’s Director (admin), Khandaker Aliour Rahman, could not provide any information about the progress of the inspections.

“We will compile the information on all the buildings inspected so far, on Sunday,” he said on Saturday afternoon.

Earlier this month, he told the Dhaka Tribune: “We are confident about submitting our findings on building code violations throughout Dhaka to the ministry concerned, by April 7.”

Several Rajuk officials said lacking fire, earthquake, construction, and electricity experts, will not affect their campaign since it is only focused on building code violations.

Rajuk Chairman Md Abdur Rahman was unavailable for comment.

Architect Iqbal Habib, joint secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, dubbed the move a farce, saying only listing a building cannot bring ultimate solutions to building code violations and fire hazards.

Questioning the haste in inspecting the buildings and lack of experts in the teams, he said: “This campaign will turn into a mockery.”

“Where were these Rajuk officials before the inspection?” he asked, raising a question about their accountability for failing to crack down on the breach of building codes.

Instead of making a list of flawed facilities, the Rajuk must emphasize priority issues such as ensuring fire exit doors and wider staircases are installed, suggested the urban planning expert.

He was also of the opinion that the authorities concerned need to make the landlords or realtors who flouted building codes, address the flaws in existing buildings within six months.

Md Abdul Wahed, principal research officer at House Building Research Institute, attesting to the time frame of Rajuk’s inspection being way too slim, said 3-4 weeks would be a good choice.

He thinks the hasty campaign will not bring results for Rajuk.

Based on the findings of the campaign, Rajuk is mulling over a crackdown against faulty building owners by the middle of April.

Brig Gen Ali Ahmed Khan, the immediate past director general of Fire Service and Civil Defence, also wondered how a building code inspection can be done within such a brief time.  

The expert said the 24 Rajuk teams are not fully capable of inspecting buildings appropriately as they do not have fire, structure, and electrical experts together.