Safety, quality still concerns in high-rise construction

Yangon is getting taller, but the work is not always being done well.

An unprecedented Yangon building boom began in 2012, though builders still have trouble finding skilled specialists needed to ensure construction is done properly.

The Committee for Quality Control for High-rise Building Projects (CQHP) is responsible for oversight of buildings over 12 storeys. “We check all these projects, and what we’re mostly finding is unskilled labour and weaknesses in safety. There are some buildings that don’t meet our standards,” said the committee’s chair U Khin Maung Tint.

The CQHP sends pictures and records of unsafe construction to Yangon City Development Committee, he said.

The CQHP’s primary role is to help YCDC in tackling unsafe construction projects, though it also warns developers to repair weaknesses. The committee was formed in 2003.

YCDC is responsible for checking buildings under 12 storeys.

Developers say they would like to see more legal clarity on workplace health and safety. Some of the larger companies take safety, proper construction techniques and materials seriously, and are working to improve knowledge.

“Big developers and foreign construction firms often work on putting in better safety systems, but local contractors and small developers do safety at their own convenience, as workplace safety is expensive,” said U Yan Aung, general manager from Asia Construction.

He pointed to even basic items such as safety boots, glasses, helmets and boots as expensive for local firms, which often run on a shoestring budget.

Still, the local trend may be changing. Experts pointed to recent high-profile incidents such as the scaffolding collapse at a Mandalay hotel in June that left two dead, with photos widely shared on social media.

Daw Si Si Than, general secretary of the Myanmar Engineer Council, said at the moment the best the council can do is point out weaknesses in construction project, which it is attempting to do on a systematic basis. In the future, it would like to work on increasing the number of local professional engineers qualified to work on high-rise buildings.

Source: Myanmar Times

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