Thursday, 16 May 2013

Team formed to investigate Nyagatare building collapse

photo

Rescuers carry victims pulled out from the rubble into a waiting ambulance.
The Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) yesterday announced that it had set up a technical team to investigate the cause of the building which collapsed in Nyagatare District, Eastern Province, killing six people  and injuring 30 others on Tuesday.
According to RHA officials, the nine-member team, led by Haruna Nshimiyimana, the housing authority legal adviser, is expected to produce a report within a week.
Others on the team are an RHA engineer, two police officers, military engineer, an employee with the Ministry for Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Affairs, two district staff from land bureau and a provincial staff in charge of quality assurance.
“The report will help us to take strong measures to avoid more man made disasters of this nature,” Esther Mutamba, the director general of RHA told The New Times yesterday.
Mutamba urged the public and districts’ One Stop Centres to “strictly follow the construction permit application guideline sent to them” before authorising construction.
Meanwhile, the Association of Architects and Engineers in Rwanda said technical and professional requirements were ignored in the construction of the four-storey structure.
“A quick look at the building shows that the columns themselves seem to be poorly designed and its clear there is something wrong, otherwise such a big building cannot easily collapse,” Eudes Kayumba, the board chair of architects in Rwanda told this paper yesterday.
It emerged that the owner of the building Geoffrey Barigye was also the supervisor and developer, which architects condemned as totally unprofessional for a public building.  Barigye was also injured in the accident, and is among those who were airlifted to King Faisal Hospital in Kigali.
Fred Sabiti Atuhe, the Nyagatare district mayor said the construction materials could have been weak.
“All the information about the building was verified before authorising the construction,”  said Atuhe.
Mutamba also said they suspected technical mistakes and the demolitions made on the building in an effort to widen the ground floor rooms to accommodate clients’ needs led to its collapse.
In the best practice, according to Kayumba, when you are developing a big building, an insurance of site, workers and materials is pre-requisite. There should also be first aid kits on site, he said.
Meanwhile, Atuhe said Nyagatare District had assisted the families of the deceased with funeral arrangements.
The deceased were from different districts of the country, including Ngororero, Gisagara and Nyagatare. 
There was a sombre mood during the burial of five of the deceased workers in Nyagatare, according to Claudien Mushabe, the executive secretary of Nyagatare sector.
Two of them, Claude Nibishaka of Gasabo district and another only identified as Isa├»e of Huye district were buried in Mirama Cemetery. 
Other victims identified as Seraphine Uwonkunda from Muhanga district, Thomas Mukono of Ngororero district and Iyamuremye from Gisagara district were buried in Barija cemetery, Nyagatare. Uwonkunda was the only woman who died in the tragedy. 
The body of the sixth victim, identified as Erasto Musanya, a Tanzanian national from Dar-es-salaam, was transported to a Kigali hospital pending transportation to Tanzania, according to Mushabe.
The new Acting CEO of King Faisal Hospital where three people are being treated, Doctor Emile Rwamasirabo, told this paper yesterday that the victims they received including two with minor injuries and one with a serious pelvic crush were steadily recovering. 
Twelve people have since been discharged, according to the latest police updates, released yesterday.

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