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Opinions of Monday, 21 September 2015

Columnist: Daily Guide

The tears of NADMO

The newly appointed head of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Brig Francis Vib-Sanziri, assumed work on a rough note. The collapse of a number of buildings greeted his assumption of office, the most prominent of which was the structure in the neighbourhood of the president’s residence – an accident that claimed the life of the owner – it would be recalled.

He hosted a press conference last Thursday to pour his heart out about the many instances of collapsed buildings across the country. Maybe what he did not add to his speech was the fact that nothing is being done to address the avoidable anomaly.

His concerns are not unusual. Coming from the military where everything is well structured, he would soon understand the game and how it is played outside the regiment. Be it as it may, one cannot say with total truthfulness that he does not know what obtains outside the barracks, having himself suffered the challenges of having his land papers processed by the relevant state agencies.

The Brigadier is welcome to the club where building inspectors and other public officers in that industry are tipped to look elsewhere as the wrong things are done, even when these are detrimental to the safety of the people.

The challenges of the building industry are no different from what obtains in other departments of state. Contractors and those engaging them to work on their projects prefer shortcuts and are therefore ready to pay for their preferences which are by and large the breaches of standard procedures such as adhering to approved drawings and the engagement of qualified personnel, and others which all go to ensure the safety of the building during and after construction.

The Brig appears willing and ready to change the status quo but how far can he go? Since he is not going to become the inspector of buildings and for that matter, hopping from one site to another across the country, he would have to live with the pain of working with corrupt officials who would do all they can to sabotage him.

We appreciate his readiness to work but can assure him that he would soon run out of steam. That is not to say he should not try. Let him try perhaps he would experience a miracle.

There are many structures in Accra which do not require an architect or any other person in the construction industry to determine their defects and the danger they pose. These buildings, their dangerous structural defects notwithstanding, have been left to stand and to contain humans over the years, prompting people to wonder whether at the time of their construction building inspectors in the employ of the assemblies did not set eyes on them.

NADMO on its own cannot achieve much in the area of changing the landscape of the building industry. For any meaningful change to take place, the need for collaborative efforts on the parts of stakeholders cannot be overlooked.

What Brig Sanziri is concerned about is part of the general ailment afflicting the nation – the building industry being a part.