Experts: Engineers should be responsible

- GAURAV THAPA, Kathmandu

Jan 11, 2016-

Policy makers and experts have proposed making building designers and supervisors more responsible, saying that this measure could help in enforcing building codes more effectively.

Sharing his experience, Chief and Executive Officer of Kathmandu Metropolitan City Rudra Singh Tamang said that masons have been doing the work of engineers in the field while actual engineers, who should be involved in designing and overseeing construction, are carrying out their work from the table. 

“To change this approach, the metropolis is working on developing building bylaws that make building designers and supervisors more responsible,” he said.

The Metropolis Council meeting last year had decided to make third party verification mandatory for constructed buildings to check compliance with government-prescribed building codes. So, the third party verification is not a new policy, but it was not properly implemented due to lack of verifiers. 

House owners are required to get their houses checked by a licensed engineer to ensure that they are built according to the approved design before KMC itself sends its technicians to give the final approval.

Nepal Engineers’ Association President Dhurba Raj Thapa also stressed 

on making engineers 100 percent responsible for supervision of buildings during 

construction. “Provisions are in place in the building bylaws amended after the earthquake whereby house owners need to hire a certified engineer for overseeing building construction,” he said. “Similarly, third party assessment will further ensure compliance.”

The April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks completely destroyed nearly 700,000 houses and damaged close to 300,000 others. Most of the destroyed houses have been found to be built by compromising on their quality, like disregarding National Building Code, building bylaws, use of lower-grade materials, failure to renovate dilapidated houses and being built in geologically unsuitable areas.

UN Habitat Programme Manager Padma Sundar Joshi said that building technicians should be responsible for quality control of buildings. 

“House owners cannot take technical matters into their own hands during construction, so it is the responsibility of the technicians,” he said. “If a particular house collapses due to technical failure, the technician should be held responsible. Local government bodies alone cannot supervise all construction work as house owners can alter their approved design if they wish to do so.”

Published: 11-01-2016 08:26

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