Building Collapse: Such ‘Costly’ Passiveness!

Cameroon has been mired in a medley of disasters these last weeks, some of which could have been avoided had people behaved responsibly in their respective spheres of influence. The phenomenon of buildings collapsing here and there may not be new, but the recent cases once again bring to light a deep-rooted societal problem that appears to be surging.
While the dust was yet to settle on the collapse of a building in Douala that finally claimed some 40 lives; going by media sources, the population was again taken aback with another building collapse in Ngaoundere, capital of Adamawa Region. In Douala, it was the collapse of a four-storey building in the Mobil Guinness neighbourhood, which hit a single storey building in the Douala V Subdivision, plunging the entire city and by extension the whole nation into astonishing commotion. Meanwhile in Ngaoundere, it was a four-storey building under construction that snuffed life off four people. Last Saturday, another two-storey building under construction collapsed at Pk 19 in Douala. A quick succession of tragedy and telling enough of the magnitude of the problem that must not be ignored any longer.
In the usual administrative manner, investigations are said to have been opened in Douala and Ngaoundere, going by government’s position, to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the regrettable incidents so as to pinpoint the exact causes and establish responsibilities. While fingers remained crossed hoping to one day get the results of the investigations, one thing remains clear: Building collapse is not new in the country and each time it happens, there are uproars by the affected and neighbouring population, most of whom saw the disaster coming but opted for sealed lips and declarations from administrative authorities whose outcomes quite often leave much to be desired. Little wonder the same causes keep producing the same effects across the country. With this, irreplaceable human life is almost always sacrificed on the altar of the apparent recklessness of civil engineers, penny-wise pound-foolish mindsets of some citizens desiring to own houses or invest in the apparent lucrative real estate business and the controversial administrative tolerance as well as the upsetting passiveness of the population who refuse to denounce even sometimes glaring ills. 
If on-the-site assessment of the incident in Douala suggests below standards of construction rods and poor dosage used on the killer building, Ngaoundere is said to be cursing the nature of the soil, the type of materials used and the depth of the ground for the mishap. Municipal authorities who are supposed to authorize and control construction works in their areas cannot completely wash their hands off the malaise. Either they connived with the project owners to give building permits without controlling where and how such structures were or they pretentiously turned a blind eye to whatever was going on; after obviously haven “eaten.” It is likely that inhabitants of the said building as well as those of the one-storey building that suffered collateral damage certainly saw cracks but hoped for a miracle which might have delayed but finally landed. Their ‘I don’t care’ attitude turned costly for them and loved ones.  
The three recent cases simply highlight an age-old problem that has been haunting the country, notably big cities, for long. Buildings have over the years collapsed across the country with varying casualties. From the look of things, if nothing is done to contain the rather growing malady, the country would continue losing its valuable human resources and families; their breadwinners to the man-made catastrophe. All hands are thus needed on deck!
The apparent mad rush by most, if not all citizens, to own houses of their own or invest in real estate and reap the seemingly huge dividends that such ventures offer, sometimes tempt many to skip indispensable civil engineering procedures in house construction, believing that it is to minimize cost. There are many who out of either ignorance or selfishness engage unskilled or malicious technicians for civil engineering works that need experienced civil engineers. Some would even go as far as erecting storey buildings on a foundation that was not laid to contain such. Other shylock technicians would just collect money from project owners and indulge in poor dosage or weak and ill-adapted materials; provided the deal puts more money in their pockets. These are recurrent but wholly risky practices in most worksites in the country. Sad!
Civil engineering best practices teach, even non-professionals, that all potential building sites would need to be investigated to determine their suit...



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