Structural defects cause Melcom disaster – Findings

The Ghana Institute of Engineers (GIE) has identified lack of adequate reinforcement in the columns of the Melcom Shopping Complex as part of the factors which led to the collapse of the building at Achimota.

Additionally, the institute said the concrete strength was very low based.

Following the collapse of the building complex which claimed 14 lives and left many others injured on November 7, 2012, the GIE set up an 11-member committee to investigate the incident

According to the findings of the committee, the situation was further compounded by an additional screed depth of 100mm on each floor which imposed an extra loading on the building structure.

Professor Samuel Innocent Kofi Ampadu said this at a meeting to make the findings of the committee known to the public.

According to Professor Ampadu, members of the committee visited the site shortly after the incident to carry out the investigations.

They measured the concrete strength, counted the steel reinforcement in the collapsed members and measured their size and spacing.

They obtained the dimensions of the members and floor plan from the architectural sketch drawing prepared by Melcom.

Furthermore, members of the committee also checked the strength of the soil for its load carrying capacity after which they simulated the structure to various combinations of loads to ascertain the cause of the failure.

Professor Ampadu explained that data collected from the site was fed into a structural design model and analysed under different scenarios.

Regrettably, Prof Ampadu stated that “it is the view of the GIE that the situation described in the Melcom building represents that of hundreds of other buildings, not only in Accra, but in many other cities and towns in Ghana”.

The engineers consequently called for an immediate structural audit of major buildings to enhance public safety.

Prof Ampadu expressed regret that recommendations made by the institution following the collapse of a building in Kumasi in 2007, had not been carried out.

“Five years ago we had this disaster, are we going to wait for another disaster before we carry out these recommendations?”, he asked.

Moving forward, Prof Ampadu said, the various assemblies must ensure that the design of structures, particularly, high rise buildings were carried out by certified experts.

Furthermore, building permits must not be issued for the development of a building, especially, high rise structures without the stamped approval of the various certified experts.

The GIE, he stated, sympathised with the affected families and victims, but stressed that there was the need to act fast in order to avoid a reoccurrence of a disaster of that nature in the country.

Source: Daily Graphic

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