Growing pains beset builders | Bangkok Post: opinion

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Growing pains beset builders

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Greater Bangkok got a frightening reminder of what poor building standards can mean when a seven-storey residential building under construction tilted, cracked and threatened to subside completely this week. Inspectors cited weak foundations providing insufficient support on land that had formerly been a water storage area. It is terrifying to contemplate the consequences of a collapse had the building been completed and fully occupied, especially as it was the second of 10 identical buildings to be used for high-capacity dormitories. 

Nor was it the first instance of poorly designed buildings developing a dangerous tilt during construction. While this week's scare took place in Pathum Thani province, other problems have surfaced over the years during construction of a riverside hotel in Bangkok, an apartment block on Soi On Nut and a Sukhumvit Road shopping and office complex. These faults were corrected, but this fresh scandal once again raises the issue of quality control and the calibre of the civil engineers, government and municipal officials signing off on an enormous number of projects.

With major infrastructure works in progress and more about to begin, we must ask ourselves if we have sufficient labour resources, architects, electricians and skilled engineers to not just see the projects through, but to ensure that high-quality specifications are met and safety standards maintained. These expensive projects must be designed to last, not to fall apart after a few years. At least one shortfall is likely as migrant labourers will eventually return home to take advantage of large-scale modernisation plans.

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