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ROUGH CUTS | Earthquake consequences

This IS the worst that can happen not just to workers on construction or holding offices in high-rise buildings but also to houses and residents in the immediate vicinity.

This is what is happening now after the magnitude 7.2 with intensity of 6.8 earthquake struck in most of southern Mindanao, including Davao City and parts of Region 12 last Friday afternoon.

One case in point is the multi-story building being constructed at the corners of MacArthur National Highway and Sandawa Road in Matina. The building is visibly badly damaged on its side fronting the national highway leading to the south when the giant crane on the topmost floor collapsed and its boom broke and smashed the building side. And the other possibility is that considering that the curing of the concreted wall may not have fully attained its desired level, chances are that government agencies regulating building construction will not allow the work on the multi-level edifice to continue until appropriate inspection is done by experts.

And as expected residents within the immediate vicinity of the tall building are advised to temporarily vacate their houses to obviate any serious consequences should something unexpected happen to the building that may imperil people and houses nearby.

So what is happening now is that it is not only the owner or developer of the multi-use high-rise structure who are problematic with the additional cost that has to be incurred but the nearby residents as well. The house occupant-neighbors will have to look for places to transfer temporarily which movement definitely requires more money when they comply and be back when they will be allowed to re-occupy their houses near the tall structure again.

Of course we are certain that despite the warning, not a few residents near the building affected by the strong temblor will take the risk. It may not only be their lack of resources to move to another place but possibly because of the inconvenience in bringing household appliances to and back.

Moreover, if they are renting, or worse, squatting on the lot where their houses are built, then there will be the fear that by the time they are allowed to go back, they end up with no more houses.

So we expect that the order for the residence to temporarily vacate their areas may not be followed.

Meanwhile, it will not just be one day of classes that may be wasted because of the strong earthquake. The City Engineer’s Office through the Office of the Building Official, will certainly be conducting inspections to the now mostly 3 or 4 level school buildings constructed lately by the government.

And for us, inspections have to be a “must” responsibility of the city engineer’s office. The reason why we think so? It is simply because it is common knowledge that the quality of construction is now so wanting because the contractors have to get back what they skimp from their contracted amount to fill the wide open pockets of corrupt officials in government agencies tasked to implement school building construction projects. And the percentages due this and that official are even given even before the projects are started.

Who gave us the information? Of course the most knowledgeable – contractor-friends of ours who also admitted that they have to “recover” the loss in no other way but by tampering with quality.

And we happened to see one such school building – a 3-storey, 12-room structure which according to a nearby billboard installed in compliance with government requirement, cost over P16 million. In only a little over a year after its turnover, the wall paint was already scarred and the entire front portion of the gutter all destroyed. Most floors inside the rooms are having cracks.

With such a situation in that particular school it is likely that many more other school buildings are similarly situated. What with the government agencies concerned adopting the scheme mentioned by our contractor-friends.

Thus, all the more thorough inspections and assessments of the safety of government school and other public buildings must be done even if this would mean additional days of class or office work suspension.


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