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Rough Cuts | Strict code enforcement, not revision

We would like to thank the management of SM Lanang Premier for immediately providing medical assistance to our grandson who met an accident last Sunday inside its grounds.

Our 14-year-old grandson was assisting a sound system service set up in the mall’s grounds for a 2-day launching activities of a food service firm. While moving around he stepped on what appeared to be a manhole cover. It turned out that it was made of something like plastic instead of solid iron or steel.

The cover gave way to the weight of the teenager resulting to one of his legs falling into the hole through the broken portion of the cover. He sustained bruises on his legs.

Had his other leg not anchored on the concrete pavement and his fall body weight was on top of the plastic cover he could have fallen inside the manhole. That would have been disastrous.

Good thing that the incident was brought to the attention of the mall management. Medical personnel from the firm were immediately sent and our grandson was given an anti-tetanus injection and his wounds treated.

For this fast action we thank the management of the mall.  But we recommend that the firm re-examines its policies concerning safety of its employees, customers and those who are inside its compound to provide services to the mall clients.

The management has to be conscientious because somehow, it was wanting. If it was then it could not have allowed the use of breakable materials for cover of manholes within the mall’s surroundings.

If the incident should serve as lesson for the management maybe it can form a team to inspect its vicinity for more manholes with similar cover. And if it’s not asking too much, perhaps the team can also look into the situation of the drainage canals outside its buildings.

Again, our heartfelt thanks to the SM Lanang Premier mall management.

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Talking of safety we saw on television the other night an interview conducted by a news team on a structural engineering expert from the University of the Philippines.

The interviewee whose name we missed, said that it is high time Congress looks into the National Building Code and makes revisions to have the law attuned to the times.

Honestly we have no iota of educational background to hold on to argue against the opinion of that UP expert. Structural integrity and how to have it is what experts like him studied and worked for years.

But we have read the entire code and to be knowledgeable about the law so we can be able to discharge our responsibilities when we once work on disaster response management and mitigation as chair of a corporate network on disaster response group in Mindanao.

Based on the conduct of a good number of building contractors, the actuation of most public officials tasked to regulate building and other vertical infrastructure constructions, and of course the desire of most building owners to save on cost, we are certain that there are more efforts done to circumvent the law rather than to have it complied to the letter.

For example, we have this personal knowledge of one building owner hiring an architect to prepare a plan for a 3-storey edifice. So he can save on the cost of procuring building and electrical permits the building owner asked his contractor to enhance the foundation so it can hold a fourth level.

As to the chances that such secret will be discovered by regulators, well, we are all aware that seldom will anyone from the City Building Office or the City Engineer’s Office go out to conduct monitoring of building constructions. If anyone or a team does, the contractor simply treats them to launch or dinner and there talk about the progress of the construction.  In most cases the inspectors go home full in the stomach and in the pockets as well.

Only when something happens while the construction is in progress that the regulators’ offices start coming out with statements about what they see as wanting in the construction, some violations in the building code, and that the intended building heights are not allowed in the sites.

Remember that condominium tower that was suddenly placed in the limelight because its height is posing danger to airplanes taking off or approaching Davao’s F. Bangoy International Airport?

Had not an accident happened affecting a mall right beside the high rise while the building contractor was already working on the last three or four levels, no one would probably start raising the issue of its possible interference of airplane outbound and in-bound flights.

We believe therefore, that for now, the revision of the National Building Code should not be made a priority of Congress.  What we think is important is the change in the mindset of regulators, the sense of responsibility of contractors, and of course for property developers to moderate their greed for profit.
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