Vusumuzi Dube, Sunday News Reporter
THE Engineering Council of Zimbabwe has commissioned two independent engineering firms to investigate the collapse of a building last month that also housed popular fast food outlet Nando’s in Bulawayo.
The investigation is expected to provide answers on what caused the collapse and further unravel whether the collapse was caused by human error or not. One person died after the walk way of the building collapsed while three others sustained injuries.
In a telephone interview on Friday, chief executive officer of the council, Engineer Ben Rafemoyo, said it was the mandate of the national engineering body to get to the bottom of the matter.
“It is true that we have set up this investigating team. As you know we are based in Harare so we have to engage our members in Bulawayo to assist us and investigate the collapse of this building. With our projections we are expecting that the results of this investigation will be out by end of next (this) week. As a council we will then go through the findings before we make them public and hand them over to the relevant authorities,” said Eng Rafemoyo.
He said the investigating team was working closely with the Bulawayo City Council’s town planning department, the police and residents’ representatives.
“We have already been in touch with the council so as to get access of all the drawings of that building, find out whether there were any renovations that took place recently and the drawings of those renovations if there were any. The police have also been helpful as they have ensured that the team accesses the building in question without any hustle. It is our aim that this report be very thorough and encompasses all aspects so that we have an idea of what happened,” said Eng Rafemoyo.
He encouraged anyone who might have any information that they felt was important for the investigation to contact the council, which will then refer them to the investigating team.
The constituting of the investigating team comes after a local pressure group, Affirmative Action Group wrote to Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Cde Saviour Kasukuwere calling for the setting up of a commission of inquiry to investigate the collapse. They argued that the local authority had no capacity to probe the circumstances leading to the accident as this would be counter-productive as they could be an interested party.
After the collapse of the building the Bulawayo City Council revealed that as at 31 December last year they had condemned 35 buildings in the Central Business District. In recent years the city has experienced an unprecedented increase in the number of abandoned, neglected and derelict buildings in the central business district.