The incident at UDS
The incident at UDS

3 Storey buildings collapse in a week: Fears there’s lack of supervision

Three multi-storey buildings have collapsed at three different places within a spate of one week, raising serious concerns about the rigidity of the building laws, stringent supervision by supervising authorities as well as adherence to best practices for safety by contractors.

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The Ghana Geological Survey Authority (GGSA) has called for a mandatory geological survey to be part of the process of granting of building permits in the country.

It was, therefore, advocating a strong collaboration with the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to enforce this mandate, particularly for public buildings and storey buildings, before construction was allowed to start on those projects.

Interacting with stakeholders at a sensitisation programme in Kumasi, the Director-General of GGSA, Isaac Kuuwan Mwinbele, said that was to ensure the safety of the structures and the people who would be using those facilities.

Mr Mwinbele said involving the Geological Survey Authority right from the beginning of the process of issuing building permits would help guide the assembly and the contractors on the preventive measures to be put in place to avert a disaster depending on the nature of the land.

This was because not all the lands were suitable for the siting of some structures and as such, there would be the need for the owners and the assemblies to get the authority involved in the granting of the building permits.

He said already, the authority had been offering this service to the Ghana Highway Authority and the Ministry of Roads and Highways and believed that the time had come for the housing sector to also benefit from this service.

Last Saturday, a six-storey building under construction at the University for Development Studies, City Campus at Sagnarigu in Tamale collapsed.

The incident reportedly occurred after a rainstorm.

Also last Thursday, one person reportedly died after being trapped under the rubble following the collapse of a three-storey building at Nanakrom in the Adentan Municipality in Accra.

This was barely four days after another three-storey building under construction collapsed at SDA Junction at the Adentan side of La-Nkwantanang Madina.

That incident resulted in the death of one person with three others sustaining injuries.

The supervisor of the three-storey building was subsequently arrested by the police and later granted bail while the Municipal Chief Executive for La-Nkwantanang Madina, Jennifer Agyabeng directed the confiscation of the equipment of the contractors after it emerged that the project had no permit.

Also in a preliminary investigation, the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) disclosed that the three-storey building collapsed due to a crash of one of the pillars of the building by a concrete mixer resulting in a loss of balance in the building.

Nanakrom incident

When the Daily Graphic visited the scene of the incident at Nanakrom last Friday, it noticed that there were police officers on guard protecting the affected structure.

Portions of the untarred road in front of the house had been red-taped blocking access to vehicles and other residents.

The Daily Graphic team also observed that the collapse of the three-storey, which was an extension, had affected parts of the original completed single storey on the land.

It also toppled portions of the fence wall to the left of the property.

Eyewitness said the platforms mounted to aid construction works on the structures collapsed a few minutes before the building itself came down last Thursday afternoon, with one of the workers managing to escape though he sustained some injuries.

It took a team made up of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), 48 Engineers Regiment of the Ghana Armed Forces, Ghana Fire Service (GFS), Ghana Police Service, and Ghana National Dog Academy (GNAD) to help rescue the person who was trapped under the rubble on Friday morning.

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Investigation

Following the incident at Nanakrom, the Engineering Council of Ghana has launched a full investigation to establish the cause of the collapse of the uncompleted structure, after an initial investigation showed that the owner extended the approved two-storey on the blind side of the Adentan Municipal Assembly (AdMA).

Already, a team made up of experienced engineers has been established to conduct detailed investigations by assessing the integrity of the foundation, concrete and reinforcement of the affected structure.

The council, which is an agency under the Ministry of Works and Housing (MoWH), has directed that the place remained cordoned off in order not to disturb the composition of the rubble on site to facilitate smooth and efficient investigations.

Findings of the investigations which are likely to last for about a week would be tabled before the assembly to apply the necessary sanctions against persons found culpable.

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Preliminary investigations

The Registrar of the council, Wise Ametefe, in an interview with the Daily Graphic yesterday, observed that the Engineering Council of Ghana had already commenced preliminary investigations into the incident.

“The AdMA has done well by not disturbing the evidence at site, thus making forensic investigations easier, unfortunately that was not the case in the incident that happened at the SDA area in the La Nkwantanang Municipality of the Madina Constituency.

“We were on site on Friday to confirm the collapse and we will return on Tuesday to commence detailed investigations,” he said.

Mr Ametefe said the preliminary investigations into the collapse of the building indicated that the owner extended the approved storey without permit.

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He said based on the investigation, the team from the council noticed that the approved permit for the building was two-storey but the owner extended it to three without informing the assembly.

When enquired from the assembly, the registrar explained that AdMA informed the council that it approved the building, but it appeared that the owner developed the structure beyond what was approved.

“The AdMA tells us the approved permit was for a two-storey, but the owner extended on his own to the third storey,” he said.

Mr Ametefe said among the things the committee would be looking out for were the integrity of the foundation, whether the concrete mixture met the approved requirements or not, and also the reinforcement.  

“We are going to test the foundation to see whether it is a foundation problem. We will test the concrete and if possible, even the reinforcement,” he said.

He added that the outcome of the investigations would establish if there was any foul play to inform possible sanctions.

No speculation

In an interview with the Daily Graphic last Friday, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of AdMA, Alexander Nii Noi Adumuah, who confirmed the development, said the assembly was awaiting investigations from the council to ascertain exactly what led to the collapse of the structures.

He explained that for now, any reason assigned to the collapse of the structures by anyone may be speculation until the full investigations were successfully completed.

On whether the owner secured a permit for the building in question, he said:“I am informed that they have a permit to build from the assembly.

“I am also informed that before they secured the permit, the owner was asked to produce Fire and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certificates”.

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