Dhaka,  Wednesday
29 May 2024

Building Code compliance

Ensuring safe and secure construction projects

Editor, The Daily Messenger

Published: 09:02, 7 April 2024

Ensuring safe and secure construction projects

Photo : Collected

Following an unfortunate incident in the city, discussions ensued, but soon fizzled out. In urban areas, notably Dhaka, the construction of multi-storied buildings continues without adequate fire safety measures and occupancy certificates. Despite the enactment of the Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC) Act in 1993, its gazetting in 2006, and promises of a dedicated authority for its enforcement, no tangible progress has been made in over a decade. The lack of regulatory oversight has led to the proliferation of unsafe structures, with urban planners highlighting the absence of a clear definition for multi-storied buildings as a glaring issue.

Stakeholders involved in the matter have revealed that despite the gazetting of the Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC) in 2006, efforts were made to amend the 2011 version. However, progress in this regard stalled after initial advancements. The absence of a dedicated authority has further complicated matters, leading to a lack of consensus regarding the enforceability of the current BNBC.

Concerned parties argue that the unpreparedness of unplanned cities, coupled with the prevalence of fire accidents, has led to escalating damages. Many buildings have been erected without adhering to building regulations, yet there is a noticeable lack of enforcement against violators.

Urban planners emphasise that the implementation of the Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC) is imperative to mitigate damage caused by non-compliant constructions. Urgent formation of the Bangladesh Building Regulatory Authority is deemed essential for effective enforcement. Despite this pressing need, numerous local governing bodies, including 69 union councils, four corporations, and seven municipalities under Rajuk, approve building constructions without adhering to BNBC standards.

Additionally, the Cantonment Board grants permissions for construction activities, often overlooking BNBC regulations. According to these regulations, buildings taller than seven floors require a minimum frontage of 25 feet and a width of at least 20 feet. Moreover, structures must maintain a distance of 1.5 meters from the roadside boundary during construction.

Professor Adil Mohammad Khan, Executive Director of the Institute for Planning and Development (IPD), emphasised the critical need for clarity in the regulations governing multi-storied buildings to uphold safety standards. He underscored the urgency of establishing the Bangladesh Building Regulatory Authority to oversee construction activities promptly. Currently, several government departments are involved in issuing permits and monitoring building constructions in the capital. However, Professor Khan stressed the importance of ensuring transparency and accountability in their operations to foster trust and compliance with safety regulations.

To enhance seismic resilience, buildings must meet a minimum earthquake resistance rating of 7 on the Richter scale. Prior to constructing buildings up to seven floors, approvals must be secured from multiple authorities including the Fire Service, Environment Department, Gas, Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA), and Electricity Department. It is imperative that all constructions adhere strictly to the Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC).

Authorities responsible for oversight should intensify surveillance to ensure strict compliance with building codes throughout the construction process. Legal measures should be swiftly implemented against those failing to abide by the regulations, emphasising the importance of upholding safety standards in urban development.