Probe fails to find cause of mall fire

Investigators say Centaurus Mall has deficient fire safety system

Usama Iqbal October 15, 2022
A fire erupted at the third floor of Centaurus Mall in Islamabad on October 09, 2022 / Photo: Screen-grab


A probe has found no apparent reason behind the cause of fire at Islamabad’s Centaurus Mall earlier this week.

The probe into the incident by the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI)’s Emergency and Disaster Management Department, however, said that there was plenty of combustible material at the food court where the fire erupted.

The investigation found that appliances installed at the mall’s kitchens in the food court area and the control rooms of electricity and gas were last time inspected back in 2016, which indicates criminal negligence on part of the mall administration.

The probe also pointed out that the mall administration had applied for the no-objection certificate (NOC) in December 2016 whereas an interim completion certificate was issued in 2017.

It said that notices were served on the mall administration on multiple occasions from 2017 to 2021 for unsatisfactory response and poor management, it adding that a senior special magistrate also issued a notice to the management on June 15, 2017.

The report said that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) kept monitoring the situation and remained aware of the repeated failure on part of the Centaurus Mall’s management.

According to the report, Centaurus Mall’s management has a history of flagrant violation of fire safety regulations. The probe identified several issues at the Centaurus Mall’s food court during their visits. The installed automatic devices for fire prevention in the building were found to be flawed. Likewise, the food court's tenants too violated fire and safety regulations, the report said.

Investigators revealed that the material used in the kitchens was not fire-resistant. The kitchens also contained supplies and fuel that were fire-prone. The wiring and equipment that were installed on the food court's ceiling were not constructed per safety regulations, it said.

The report indicated that the mall did not have trained firefighters, which resulted in additional damage because CDA bylaws state that firefighting personnel must be inside the mall all the time when it is open.

Investigators said the Monal Restaurant was not included in the initial plan of the Centaurus Mall, which was later included, but the MCI did not approve it.

The extension of the food court on the fourth floor was not in accordance with the building bylaws as no NOC for the expansion was obtained, it said.

The final report bearing signatures of six officers has been added to the inquiry committee's record of proceedings, sources said.

Earlier, sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune that the management of the Centaurus Shopping Mall in Sector F-8 — one of Islamabad’s top attractions — not only violated the approved building plan but also occupied the building without getting formal approval from the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

The sources said that the Centaurus Mall neither has a fire and safety system in place under the CDA Act nor has it been issued the NOC as per the Building Code of Pakistan.

The sources said that Centaurus Mall’s management failed to follow the building plan approved in January 2008 by the CDA Building Control Department.

According to sources, the mall's management also failed to submit a contingency plan to the CDA. Negligence was shown by the mall’s management regarding fire safety under the Pakistan Building Code, 2016, and CDA’s Building Standards for Fire Prevention and Life Safety, 2016, the sources said adding that frequent notices by the MCI for obtaining the NOC for fire and safety were ignored by the management of the Centaurus Mall.


Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2022.


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