Engineer faulted for Nyagatare building collapse

There was gross disregard of basic construction rules in the building of the structure which collapsed and killed six people in Nyagatare District last month, a report by the taskforce commissioned to investigate the catastrophe says.
Eng. Barigye owned the building.  Saturday Times/File
Eng. Barigye owned the building. Saturday Times/File

There was gross disregard of basic construction rules in the building of the structure which collapsed and killed six people in Nyagatare District last month, a report by the taskforce commissioned to investigate the catastrophe says.

The report notes that the cause of the building collapse was the use of poor construction materials not befitting a four-storey structure.

The building belonged to Eng. Geoffrey Barigye.

The report indicates that Barigye had no concrete mixer and made alterations on the building without permission.

Preliminary findings of the report were made public on Thursday at the Eastern Province headquarters in Rwamagana District.

Speaking at a news briefing in Rwamagana, Haruna Nshimiyimana, the Rwanda Housing Authority Engineer who heads the taskforce said: “There were two or three obvious mistakes during construction...the foundation of the building was substandard. Its width couldn’t support four storied complex at all...transversal beams used to construct the building were too weak.”

The taskforce comprises, among others, security forces personnel, Ministry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Affairs, Rwanda Housing Authority and district leaders.

 “He had no papers as required by the law, allowing him to build a storied building, no clearance from the land centre, no plan of how the project would be implemented, no architectural designs showing strength of the building and electricity or water installations were not clear,” the report reads in part.

RHA is the public institution that implements the National Housing and Construction Policy.

Jean Baptstite Rucogoza, also of RHA, said that what happened in Nyagatare was regrettable, adding that there was irresponsibility on the part of  several stakeholders.

He, however, said that RHA and its partners were on the right track to ensure housing procedures were respected.

 “It is a sad reality that the building never fulfilled construction norms...we are still continuing with investigations, but regret that there was irresponsibility on the part of several people including the owner, of course. In short, the building was substandard,” he said.

Odette Uwamariya, the Governor of Eastern Province, said after the technical findings, authorities were set to sensitise builders to respect the laws.

She said a thorough inspection of all buildings particularly storied ones would soon be done across the province.

“We must asses every person’s papers claiming to be an engineer because professionalism is what we want”.

 “The accident was an eye opener. it taught us lessons and motivation as well. We must have sustainable infrastructure,” she said.

The team will soon make its final assessments.

In a previous interview, Eng. Barigye said the collapse of his structure was absurd and a surprise to him since he had done all it takes to make it a successful. He was among the 30 people who sustained injuries during the collapse.

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