Current building standards cannot be transformed without competent professional bureaucrats in place

Dear Editor,

In an SN article of April 6, it was noted that before a building plan is approved by the City Engineer’s Department (CED) of the M&CC, a soils test report has to accompany other building documents for review and approval before construction starts.As a layman I am perplexed as to the relevance of a soils test report per se to the CED in the absence of the accompanying designer’s file giving details on such other vital design parameters as the weight of the structure and the system by which that weight will be safely transmitted and supported by the underlying soil without undue settlement, for which investigation and tests have been carried out. What use is the soil test report to CED unless it could be checked for design compliance?

When a building is designed by an architect/engineer its weight and other parameters have to be determined. Next his calculation or that of his foundation engineer must show how the weight of the structure could be safely and economically supported by the underlying soil whether by wooden piles, caissons, rafts or other methods.

There are many other important factors such as wind load and the building’s safety and fire escape which should be reviewed for compliance, but are never considered either by CED or the Ministry of Housing.

In the absence of any legally approved building code/specifications and lack of expertise it would be difficult for CED/Ministry of Housing to enforce building standards of any kind. The existing system cannot be transformed unless a competent and professional group of bureaucrats is established with the skills and authority to standardize, review for compliance and enforce building procedures and practices.

Unfortunately the existing technocrats tend to be under the thumb of politicians and not up to the job when they are not on the take.

Yours faithfully,
Charles Sohan