Geospatial Expert Says High Rise Buildings in Ghana are Suspect

Geospatial Expert Says High Rise Buildings in Ghana are Suspect

Parts of the collapsed five-storey Melcom Stores Building at Achimota

A Ghanaians Geospatial Expert, William Marbell says most of the high rise buildings in Ghana are suspect on safety because even though regular changes occur in the structure of those buildings, there is no system in place to measure those changes for safety purposes.

Mr. Marbell’s caution has become even more relevant following the collapse of the five-storey building that housed Melcom Stores at Achimota in Accra.

The building collapsed on an estimated 51 people, out which over 30 has been removed so far after more than 24 hours of rescue operations, and at least five are reported dead so far.

Mr. Marbell, who is Projects Director for the Business Development Division of Trimble Africa, told Adom News there is a systemic failure on the part of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to ensure that they collect regular geospatial and structural data on high rise buildings and so any of those buildings can collapse at anytime.

“The MMDA’s are supposed to collect monthly data on all high rise buildings so we can know whether they are going through any movements, sinking, developing cracks and all that in the interest of public safety.

“I dare say that these things are not being done even though the technology for those regular measurements exists and it would cost Ghana just about US$2million to install and implement these geospatial technologies,” he said.

Mr. Marbell said “you take a picture of some of the high rise buildings in Accra and go check with AMA whether they have geospatial reports on them – whether they know what kind of changes are occurring on those buildings.”

He noted that one of the reasons for the failings on the part of the MMDAs was also because they have employed planners in place of surveyors to be collecting sensitive data which informs the permits they grant for some structures to be put up.

“Go check who are heading the survey departments of the various Assemblies – they are planners and not surveyors so they look at locations from the perspective of planners and grant permits for the construction of structures that pose danger to public safety,” he said.

He said in most cases the survey departments of the MMDAs are ‘dead’ and non-existent.

Mr. Marbell said the same kind of danger applies to even bridges, which also go through regular changes but no regular geospatial data are collected on them to inform safety measures.

“We can save a lot of lives and property if we make that meager investment of about US$2million to implement geospatial technology for our own good,” he said.

He said the generally poor planning of residential and commercial communities, which lead to huge losses in property rates, were also attributable to the lack of geospatial technology for planning.

Mr. Marbell said the same kind of technology could also be used by farmers, for instance, to check the efficacy of the farm lands and therefore determine how much fertilizer is appropriate to generate high yields, whiles keeping the land environmentally safe.

He believes it is time Ghana rises above mediocrity and start using the necessary and affordable technologies to ensure safety, judicious use of space, revenue assurance for the state and proper protection of the environment.