Kyaseka Towers, located on Makerere Hill opposite Ham Towers, collapsed yesterday afternoon, burying three bodies under its debris and injuring a yet to be confirmed number of civilians.
The incident marks the second time a building in Kampala is collapsing in as many months. Last month, the ceiling of the ground floor on Twed Towers gave away (the second time following the 2013 incident) but fortunately no one was injured.
The continuing trend of collapsed buildings will only serve to surly the reputation of the engineers, architects and owners of these commercial buildings.
It is a common occurrence for owners to start renting out space in buildings before they are completed. Kyaseka Towers took the same gamble, letting out to potential tenants before completion. Reports are still unclear as to what caused the collapse.
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In a 2013 interview with Construction Review, Engineer Jackson Mubangizi – then President of Uganda Institute of Professional Engineers – noted that the construction industry has a limited number of professional engineers. This often results in substandard work. With a limited supply of professional engineers, this calls for extra training of on-site staff.
In response to the tragedy of the Nice Times Building, which collapsed in July 2013, Mr. Edward Seth Mungati blamed the laxity of professionals. Mr. Mungati, a former President of Uganda Association of Technical Professionals, stated that most architects merely design the project and once plans are approved minimal attention is paid towards monitoring the projects.
Most importantly, building regulation in Uganda needs to be revised. Laws that clearly state the proper procedure of the construction process, from foundation to monitoring and completion, and the qualification of the individuals to carry out the task.
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Construction material selected for any project should be capable of meeting the required task, not only for a year but for generations.
It is a discomforting irony, the fact that within a walking distance from the Kyaseka Towers you’ll find buildings that have stood for over 60 years within Makerere University, a breeding ground for aspiring engineers and technicians. Commercial developers should seek professional services, which maybe costly but less detrimental to the lives of civillians.