Protecting public buildings against earthquake: No funds for integrity audit …Engineering Council appeals to govt

The non-release of funds to undertake the comprehensive integrity audit of all public buildings and structures in the country, to check their capability to withstand earthquakes has stalled the project, Registrar of the Engineering Council of Ghana, Mr Wise Ametefe, has said.

He said the about GH₵200,000 needed to commence the audit at the theChristianborg Castle (Osu castle), the seat of government (the Jubilee House),  Parliament House, the National Theatre,  ministries, departments and agencies blocks and hospitals has still not been released.

Speaking to the Ghanaian Times in a telephone interview yesterday in Accra, Mr Ametefe said the Council would start the project immediately funds were released.

He explained that, the GH₵200,000was the estimated budget to commence the project in the capital, before extending it to the remaining regions.

Mr Ametefe said, many buildings would be audited to assess their strength to withstand any seismic activities, since most earthquakes experienced in the country mostly happen in Accra.

He said so far, six different committees made up of experts to undertake the project has been constituted and awaiting the release of funds by the Ministry of Finance.

Mr Ametefe explained that the funds would be used to purchase the needed gadget to undertake a non-distractive test, travelling expenses and accommodation for members as well as acquisition of some technologies.

“In fact it is getting to an embarrassing stage as members kept calling to find out when the Council would commence the President’s directive of auditing these buildings.

“The Council as we speak does not have the financial muscles to undertake the project, that is the reason why we are pushing to ensure the licensing of all practising engineers to enable us get some funds in carrying out our operations,” he said.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo during a stakeholder conference to study a report compiled by a committee of experts that assessed Ghana’s state of preparedness for earthquakes carried by the Ghanaian Times in its April 9, 2021 issue, charged the Engineering Council of the Ministry of Works and Housing to undertake the project.

He also urged the Ghana Geological Survey Authority to advise the government on the logistical needs and equipment required by the authority to undertake round-the-clock monitoring of seismic activities for urgent action.

Ghana has a major active fault line for earthquake, stretching from the McCarthy Hill area in Accra westwards towards Kasoa-Nyanyanu in the Central Region and eastwards towards the Akuapem Ridge all the way to the Volta Region.

The National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) has indicated that critical infrastructure such as Tema Harbour, the Kotoka International Airport, Akosombo Dam and Weija Dam, and Jubilee House are on the fault tine.

According to Research Gate papers published by Ghanaian experts, Ghana has records of damaging earthquakes dating as far back as 1615 with the last three major events occurring in 1862, 1906, and 1939.

The 1939 earthquake was the severest with a local magnitude of 6.5 on the Richter scale, resulting in the death of 17 people and causing significant damage to property in Accra.

Since then, there have been reported occurrences of earthquakes, with the recent one occurring last year June which the Ghana Geological Survey Authority (GGSA) described as a signal of an imminent earthquake of greater magnitude.

BY BERNARD BENGHAN

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