The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) has called for a stress test to be carried out on all buildings and properties used by the public within the next 12 months to ensure safety.
These include all government offices, banks, private businesses, malls, markets, churches and mosques.
Professor Alex Dodoo, the Director-General of the GSA, who made the call, said it is in the interest of the country for all buildings used by the public, including government buildings and private ones accessed by the public, to to undergo the necessary tests and be certified.
“The audit of the buildings, offices, malls, markets and places of worship and the issuance of a stress certificate to those who passed the test, would enhance the confidence of the public who access such properties,” Prof. Dodoo said in an interview with the Ghana News Agency.
The stress test allows the identification of the weaknesses in the building and rectify them and get a certificate confirming the fitness of the certified building he said.
The call came on the back of the recent collapse of a ceiling at one of the shopping centres at the Accra Mall.
“The Accra mall incidence is a near-miss as well as a scary wake-up call and we should take immediate action to prevent avoidable disasters. “As a matter of urgency all public buildings should in the next 12 months be subject to a stress test and certificate of the test pasted there so that if a problem happens whoever undertook the test could be taken to task,” Prof. Dodoo said.
He said with the new Ghana Building Code in place, it was necessary to begin testing all buildings at all levels as it is the case in developed countries, where buildings are tested at every stage from the soil, to the laying of the foundation through to the roofing stage and final completion as well as fire and electrical installations.
“You can even build to the specification and the reason why you have to undertake an independent examination of buildings, especially from a third party agency, mostly a government agency, is to ensure that you meet the state’s requirements,” he said.
He said the assessment would examine if construction works had been done according to standards and if they had been tested at every stage of the process.
He said with the new GSA building code passed, the GSA as well as private accredited laboratories should now start testing buildings and giving their certificates to the District Assemblies for them to use to as the basis for giving the relevant building permits and certificates of occupancy.
He said if this was done, the collapse of buildings would be reduced to the barest minimum, adding that, “certification is an attestation of quality, which involves testing and inspection before a certificate is issued.
He said GSA had asked a third party laboratory to undertake a test on all its buildings to enable the authority to rectify any inherent weaknesses identified.
On the recent banking crisis, Prof. Dodoo stressed the need for appropriate management systems certification to ensure that the processes used in corporate organisations was in line with global best practice.
He lamented the fact that only a few companies in Ghana have adequate quality management systems and business continuation plans that would ensure that the company can keep on running in times of crisis or unexpected exigencies.
“What the banking crisis had shown us is that we need to have management systems. Basically anytime we use the word standards people begin to think it is a big thing. But it is only a document of requirements and features of products, processes and services to ensure that there is consistency and reliability,” he said.
“In the banking sector, the whole world has realised that there are certain standards that everybody adheres to – the bank’s profitability is ensured, the sustainability is ensured and above all, the consumer is protected. One of them is ISO 27001, a standard that basically tells how to keep your data safe, and provide for the integrity of your data,” he added.
He said in the banking sector, especially a quality management systems certification should be mandatory as is the case in Cote d’Ivoire.
He said it was the view of GSA that standards should apply to management processes and business continuity plans.
“In the light of the banking crisis, the recommendation to government is that certain management systems standards should be mandatory and to make it more efficient it should start from government institutions,” Prof. Dodoo added.