OpEd, Politics

Engineers or the constructors, whose fault?

By Esther Lohutuhureng

In the Republic of South Sudan, there has been massive construction of buildings in almost all the cities in the ten states and the three administrative areas of the country. This rampant construction has been motivated by the country’s independence on July 9, 2011. The country has experienced a massive increase in the construction of all types of buildings, such as flats and multi-storey buildings, which range from one floor to even those with more than ten floors.

These rampant constructions have resulted in increased demand for the labour force in the construction industry and the need for more qualified professionals in the construction industry. The construction of these buildings has demanded the need for more engineers in the field of civil engineering. However, this demand has also resulted in unscrupulous people infiltrating the industry. This has led to loopholes in the safety of the building being constructed.

The construction of any building, for the safety of the people, has to be done professionally. This has been a major concern since the occurrence of the incident at the Hai Thoura Residential Area. The collapse of the building, which was under construction but not yet completed, has claimed the lives of some of the people who were under it and has evoked great concern about the standards that the constructors are using in order to build the houses we are residing in. It has resulted in mistrust between the constructors and the individuals who want their houses built.

There are many questions that arise in the minds of many people who are not only residing in Juba City residential areas but also in other cities or towns in the Republic of South Sudan. How are the engineers following their ethics when constructing any building? Are all the people who claim to be engineers really qualified for the task they are supposed to do? Do all the constructors follow the procedures that they are supposed to during the construction? These are the questions, among others, that linger in the minds of many.

There are many questions that arise, and perhaps most of them remain questions without answers. The responsibility of ensuring that the construction is done according to the specified standards may perhaps be the shared responsibility of each and every stakeholder in the construction project, be it the constructors or the contractor. Every partner in the project must ensure that they complete their task.

However, there may be some circumstances that result in the engineers or the people opting to have their buildings or houses constructed. Some may range from the economic, technical, and time aspects. Some of the owners of the buildings may opt for cheaper construction materials due to their financial constraints. Other owners may be pressed by time and pressurize the engineers to work based on the boss’s commands, compromising his professional ethics.

The compromises made by either the engineer or the owners of the building led to some detrimental repercussions. These may compromise safety. Working at a construction site is always dangerous. Due to the nature of the work that construction workers carry out on the construction site, many uncertainties may arise in the process of construction. There are high chances of injuries or loss of life for the constructors in the process. Some of the builders may fall from the buildings. Others may be survivors, and in severe cases, it may result in the death of some of the constructors. However, the loss of lives does not stop the engineers or the contractors from building the buildings of their choice. However, the loss of lives when such an unfortunate act occurs does not only affect the constructors or engineers alone; it also affects the lives of ordinary people.

However, the question arises: whose fault, is it? In the case of an unfortunate occurrence like the one that happened at Hai Thoura, who should be blamed? Should the engineer carry the whole blame, or should the owner of the building be the one to bear the whole blame? Or perhaps the blame should be shared equally? However, each of these stakeholders should make sure that they follow the accepted standards based on the standards stipulated by the Ministry of Housing.

The constructor should follow professional ethics in the conduct of his duties. They should follow all the required procedures before the actual construction of the building in order to determine the feasibility of the construction project. The feasibility study should be done in accordance with the project in order to determine whether it will be achievable. A feasibility study should also be done in order to determine whether the area is suitable for the nature or type of building to be constructed.

The contractor, after designing the building, should submit it to the Ministry of Housing for approval. Later, in the case of Juba City, it should be submitted to the city council and then to the county for a building permit. All these procedures should be in place before starting any work. This process ensures that the constructors meet the qualifications and standards of the building.

However, the authorities should not use a reactive approach. Rather, they should implement a proactive approach before any unfortunate act similar to the Hai Thoura incident hits. The city councils across the country should form a committee of City Inspectors. The city inspectors should go around the city and check on each building under construction in the county and also check on the building standards, including emergency measures as well. They should, however, not only check the construction sites alone but also check on safety measures for construction workers as well.

If one navigates around Juba City, one will not fail to notice some buildings cracking, yet people still live in them. The city inspectors should report such cases to the county in order to prevent further loss of lives and property. Nevertheless, as citizens of this country, we have had enough of uncertainties like random gunshots along the roads, unknown gunmen at night, and hunger during the day. The least the citizens want is to sleep comfortably at the end of the day in their homes and not worry about the building collapsing or cracking at any time.

The responsibility of ensuring that any building that is raised is up to standard and safe to reside in should be shared. Each stakeholder should ensure that he or she follows all the safety measures to ensure that the building they are constructing is up to standard and that some of the unfortunate occurrences that result from human fault are prevented.

Investigations of any building collapse should be carried out to identify the causes that contributed to the incident in order to prevent similar incidents from occurring again in the future.

The author can be reached via Email: Esther090119@gmail.com, Tel: 0921492857




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