The dilapidated state of hundreds of buildings built over the years in Gulistan-e-Jauhar is no hidden secret, but the recent collapse of two balconies at a poorly-kept residential building in the area has set off alarm bells.
On June 2, two terraces on the facade of Farhan Towers at Rashid Minhas Road had collapsed. Luckily, no major damage was done. But going by the condition of some other buildings in the vicinity, the same may not be expected the next time round.
However, it seems that the Cantonment Board Faisal (CBF) has finally woken up from its deep slumber, as it asked the inhabitants in the affected part of the building to vacate the premises until the administration carries out the repair and maintenance works. The authority also announced – albeit half-heartedly – a survey of all the buildings in its jurisdiction to list the ones dangerous to be inhabited.
CBF Chief Executive Wasim Shahid says it is too early to confirm what actually caused the balconies at Farhan Towers to collapse. “We have constituted a committee of experts to investigate [the incident],” he said.
The building in question was constructed through the standard procedures, wherein a structural consultant submits the plans and gets them approved from the board, Shahid admitted.
“Continuous leakage of sewerage lines may have weakened the structure,” he speculated. “It is the residents’ responsibility to ensure the upkeep of their homes. What can we do about it?”
The CBF chief executive could not share the details of the number of buildings in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, giving the excuse that he had joined the office just two months ago.
Both sides along the stretch of road between Jauhar Morr and Jauhar Chowrangi come under the Faisal cantonment limits. Experts say buildings there have been constructed in a haphazard way.
“We were waiting for this [balcony collapse] to happen,” said Aqeel Abedi, the secretary of Sindh Building Control Authority’s (SBCA) committee on dangerous buildings. “The land was developed for ground-plus-four buildings. Now we see eight-storey constructions that have put unnecessary stress on the structures.”
He said that the CBF does not have enough officers to inspect all the under-construction buildings. “Builders take advantage of this by hiring random construction contractors to save money, mostly in case of toilets,” Abedi said.
In many of the buildings, the ‘resident committees’ have limited their role only to the collection of maintenance money, he claimed.
In the property market, projects built by the Maymar Housing Services are considered the best. “This is because the management withdraws from its projects, only after setting up a functioning committee of residents,” a constructor told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2012.