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ISLAMABAD: Experts at the Iqbal Institute of Policy Studies (IIPS) Tuesday developed consensus that Pakistan needs to enforce regulatory framework/construction codes, improve land regulations and building controls, standardize and implement building laws to avert buildings collapses across the country.

In this regard, the IIPS hosted a live session here on Tuesday that focused on pragmatically assessing the reasons for building collapses in Pakistan and recommending policy solutions to prevent such tendencies in future.

Experts shared data that with rapid urbanization, it is estimated that by the year 2030, 45.6 percent of Pakistan's population will be living in cities. However, safety codes for the construction of buildings are often ignored in Pakistan due to which incidents of building collapses are quite common. Pakistan's fragile built environment has given rise to frequent media reports of collapsed buildings in major cities.

Keeping in mind the current state of Pakistan's construction sector and the quality of infrastructure, experts made policy recommendations during the session.

Various renowned experts and leading figures came forward to express their views on the matter, including Dr. Sarosh Hashmat Lodhi, Vice-Chancellor NED University of Engineering & Technology, Dr. Ashfaq Ahmed Sheikh, Additional Registrar-CPD (PEC), Dr. Shahid Mehmood, Member Planning and Design (CDA), Lt. Gen M. Haroon Aslam (retd), President IIPS Advisory Board, Brig Khaliq ur Rashid Kiyani, CEO Architectural and Civil Engineering Services (ACES), Major Nawaz Minhas, CEO Kingcrete Builders, and Khurram Farid Bargatt, Member IIPS Advisory Board.

Experts stressed that it is imperative to completely rethink our cities and urban spaces to encourage resilient, environment-friendly, and sustainable development practices.

While expressing his views on why buildings collapse in Pakistan, Lt. Gen M. Haroon Aslam (retd), President IIPS Advisory Board, acting as moderator of webinar, highlighted that absence of regulatory compliance is one of the major causes of fragile built environment in Pakistan. He further stated that the construction industry is in a developing stage in Pakistan. There is an urgent need to eliminate bottlenecks such as corrupt practices in the industry, improve land regulation and building control, standardize and implement building laws across the board and impart latest skills to students for the future of the industry.

Contributing to the issue, Dr. Sarosh Hashmat Lodhi, Vice-Chancellor NED University of Engineering & Technology highlighted that the most fundamental cause of building collapse is the non-observance of construction codes and safety codes. He highlighted that there are multiple factors leading to structural failure in Pakistan which include poor design, lack of testing before and after construction, foundation failure, and lack of maintenance or a combination of these factors.

According to Dr. Shahid Mehmood, Member Planning and Design (CDA), old buildings that have outlived their useful life are more prone to collapse. Poor maintenance of buildings can reduce the life of structures and need periodical checks and inspection for faults. In the absence of preventive measures, buildings become more susceptible to collapse.

Giving his insight on the matter, Brig Khaliq ur Rashid Kiyani, CEO Architectural and Civil Engineering Services (ACES) demanded that "Building authorities must exercise authority over the construction companies."

Major Nawaz Minhas, CEO Kingcrete Builders, shed light on one of the most important but often neglected causes of building collapse in Pakistan which is the uneven consistency of concrete used in construction.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020