Enforce Uganda building control law

Friday January 17 2020

Efforts. An excavator  digs through debris in

Efforts. An excavator digs through debris in search for survivors in the building that collapsed in Jinja Town on January 15, 2020. PHOTO BY DENIS EDEMA  

By Editor

On Wednesday, a storeyed building under construction in Jinja Town collapsed at around 5pm, trapping several workers.

By press time yesterday, 14 workers had been rescued and three bodies retrieved from the debris.

The Jinja Resident District Commissioner, Mr Eric Sakwa, said there were 37 workers in the building.

The Jinja Municipality speaker, Mr Moses Bizitu, said the building was constructed without supervision from the municipal council engineer. This unfortunately is not an isolated incident, but the latest in a series of tragedies through the years.

Several buildings have been constructed countrywide in contravention of the Uganda Building Control Act, 2013. This has on several occasions led to the loss of lives and maiming of occupants.

The Act consolidates, harmonises and amends the law relating to the erection of buildings, to provide for building standards, establish a national building review board and building committees; to promote and ensure planned, decent and safe buildings structures that are developed in harmony with the environment and for other related matters.

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However, those charged with enforcing building and construction laws have exhibited laxity that has enabled unqualified people masquerading as builders, architects and engineers to operate freely.

In some cases owners of buildings use insufficient cement, substandard iron bars, among others, to minimise construction costs. This endangers the lives of occupants of these houses that are susceptible to collapse.
We call upon the government to enforce Uganda Building Control Act, 2013 to safeguard people’s
lives and protect them from injuries. Those who disregard the construction rules should face the full force of the law.

There should be prompt response to emergency situations to save lives. In Wednesday’s tragedy in Jinja, the police reportedly delayed to come to the rescue.

Residents were forced to use hand hoes and axes in an attempt to rescue the workers buried under the rubble.

The government should also procure modern equipment for the rescue of those trapped in rubbles when buildings collapse, among other emergency situations.

The shortage of rescue equipment has led to the death of people in emergency situations such as landslides.

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