Karachi: Building control in need of improvement

A view of Karachi downtown, the capital of Sin...

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The collapse of an old building in Lyari on Thursday, which claimed several lives, is a testament to the fact that the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) – previously known as Karachi Building Control Authority – has failed to fulfil its responsibility to protect citizens.

According to a notification from then KBCA’s Technical Committee issued on December 28, 2009, as many as 29 buildings, including three heritage buildings, were declared “dangerous”. Instead of taking measures to demolish these buildings in order to safeguard precious lives, the authorities remained indifferent and failed to act in this regard. Some sources have alleged that the SBCA was in business with the land mafia. 
Interestingly, SBCA authorities were quick to demolish certain heritage buildings on MA Jinnah Road after violence and arson attacks had damaged many buildings in the area a couple of years ago. They did this despite directives from the serving chief secretary of Sindh to maintain the facades of all historic buildings which were declared dangerous.

“The overall responsibility of building control lies with the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) in terms of morals and administration,” said Dr Noman Ahmed, Chairman of the Department of Architecture and Planning at the NED University of Engineering and Technology. “However, Karachi is a fragmented city with respect to jurisdiction, development control and other important local government functions.

The existing structure of the SBCA makes it very difficult for it to enforce building by-laws and regulations in such a vast territory,” he said.

He informed that there had been allegations of malpractice and corruption in the overall conduct of building control affairs in the city. “It will be appropriate if building control is devolved to the neighborhood level and involved concerned stakeholders, including contractors, owners, users and occupants,” he suggested.

A senior architect and executive director of the Heritage Foundation, Yasmeen Lari, said that SBCA was responsible for according approval to the construction of new buildings and it was also its duty to review the structural condition of buildings built in the past.

“The KBCA should provide warnings to the owners of buildings that are dangerous and likely to collapse,” she said.

Source: http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=61133&Cat=4

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