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Building codes not enforced

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

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Former president of the Association of Professional Engineers of T&T (APETT) Mark Francois says there are terrible construction practices throughout the country, some of which place citizens in jeopardy everyday.

Francois made the comment as he responded to the tragic case in which a wall collapsed on five-year-old Pawaan Granger, killing him over the weekend.

While he said he could not say what caused the collapse in this case since he was unfamiliar with the circumstances, Francois said there was an urgent need for the implementation of a building code.

Pawaan, a First Year pupil of the Siparia Road Presbyterian School, died after several concrete blocks from a wall in the yard of his Coolman Street, Fyzabad home fell on his head. An autopsy at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, by Dr Hughvon des Vignes yesterday found that death was due to blunt force trauma.

The wall, which held up by a concrete counter, had no columns nor was it tied into the perimeter wall it was attached to. Pawaan’s grandfather Errol Bunsee, a builder, said the fallen was not constructed properly, as the builders used mortar to bond it to the perimeter wall. Bunsee said even the colour of the mortar showed it was not mixed properly.

Mikahail Granger, the boy’s father, said they met the wall there when they moved into the rented house a year ago.

Asked about the safe construction of a wall yesterday, Francois said there are a lot of circumstances which most laymen would not know how to go about building. He said walls are supposed to be reinforced, many times with columns, but there was no one solution.

“Because this wall happens to be one that fell down, it may be that it had no foundation, which could be a real problem. I can’t tell you what the problem is, all I am asking is, who approves walls? There is nobody approving a wall when you are building. The whole issue of safe buildings boils down to a building code and enforcement of a building code,” Francois said.

“We have a small buildings guideline which hasn’t been implemented and we don’t have a building code, and we don’t have anybody monitoring. And you know how corrupt this country is, so a bottle of scotch and you can get away with murder.”

He said several years ago the Bureau of Standards produced a small buildings guideline which does not require the experience of an engineer, architect or professional to follow. However, he said even if a draughtsman draws a proper plan, people cut corners and questioned who would monitor what the builder does.


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