How safe are our buildings?

A big number of public buildings, especially those harbouring government offices are on the spot over lack of safety measures. The buildings include ministerial offices most which are multiple-storied. Some of them have faulty elevators and lack fire fighting equipment. Such conditions pose a serious danger to people using the buildings and can cause havoc, including claiming lives.

A big number of public buildings, especially those harbouring government offices are on the spot over lack of safety measures. The buildings include ministerial offices most which are multiple-storied.

Some of them have faulty elevators and lack fire fighting equipment.

Such conditions pose a serious danger to people using the buildings and can cause havoc, including claiming lives.

A civil servant who works in one of the ministries who preferred anonymity, intimated to The New Times that the building she works in is a threat to the lives of the officials and staff.

“The building is so old. I personally can no longer use the lift in that building for fear of an accident and yet I have to run up and down the building all day due to the nature of my work,” she said as she referred to a recent incident where an elevator malfunctioned.

In a phone interview yesterday, the Director of Cabinet in the Prime Minister’s office, Eugene Balikana, acknowledged the predicament of old buildings.

“Most of those buildings are so old and we are aware of this. But we have held meetings with the Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) who said that there were plans to renovate the buildings in the near future,” said Balikana.

The New Times sought the view of an engineer about the situation of the dilapidated public buildings and what plans were envisaged to arrest the situation.

The coordinator of Infrastructure and Land Bureau at Gasabo District Eng. John Karamagye also acknowledged the problem.

“It is true that many of the public buildings are without proper safety equipment like fire extinguishers and standard elevators which is a major problem,” said Kalamagye.

He attributed the problem to the fact that most the buildings are old as they were built in accordance with old Belgian construction standards in the early 1950s which are currently outdated.

Karamagye however, noted that government is determined to upgrade the buildings to conform to current regulations.

“The government put in place the Rwanda Building Control Regulations which clearly define the requirements for public buildings. So we are trying to see that all those old buildings become updated, though it is a process,” he said.

He however, noted that since 2009, measures have been put in place to ascertain that all the new buildings are constructed in conformity with the new code.

“The City of Kigali created the one stop centre where a team of engineers are charged with authorising construction projects in the city and also follow up from time to time to ensure that regulations are followed,” he explained.

Efforts to talk to the officials at RHA were futile by press time.

Ends

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