Mon­i­tor­ing the builders

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS -

THE last­ing im­pres­sion that any vis­i­tor to the UAE re­calls is the sky­scrapers and dy­namic ar­chi­tec­ture that grace the sky­lines of our cities. But for some res­i­dents, one en­dur­ing im­age is that of smoke, fire and flames creep­ing up a build­ing — and the dis­placed tower res­i­dents have to start again with­out most of their worldly pos­ses­sions. Since 2012, a dozen high- rise fires have forced the evac­u­a­tion of fam­i­lies af­ter flames raced across the fa­cades of build­ings made of flammable alu­minium cladding and con­tain­ing pe­tro­leum- based ma­te­ri­als. It’s es­ti­mated that more than a thou­sand build­ings are wrapped in dan­ger­ous cladding. A new strict fire code is be­ing fi­nalised and will be un­veiled by mid- May. This will be an im­por­tant step in putting an end to the dan­gers of cladding and new build­ings will be re­quired to have flame- re­sis­tant ma­te­ri­als in their con­struc­tion. But the onus should not just be on of­fi­cials who are faced with the daunt­ing task of try­ing to reg­u­late and mon­i­tor com­pleted and un­der- con­struc­tion build­ings, but builders and con­trac­tors have a role to play as well. Us­ing poor- qual­ity ma­te­rial means fire reg­u­la­tions are neutered while the lives of peo­ple who then live in those build­ings are put in jeop­ardy. This is­sue is not go­ing to go away, re­gard­less of what mea­sures are in­cluded in the new fire- safety code. Build­ing in­spec­tors must en­sure con­trac­tors are us­ing proper ma­te­rial. All dan­ger­ous ma­te­rial needs to be re­moved from the mar­ket­place and banned at point of im­port or man­u­fac­ture. — Gulf News

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