Devastating rains that have killed six and displaced almost 8 000 in Mzuzu brought down the first commercial building on Sunday evening, reigniting talk of substandard structures emerging in the city centre.
Vendors in the vicinity claimed
to have sent an early warning when they saw massive cracks almost four hours before the building, which houses Kaunjika Shop, X-Feng Hardware and CY Shop, collapsed around 6.20pm.
A physical planning specialist said the accident could be a wake-up call for town planners as building that mushroom without stringent inspection present costly risks to lives and property.
“It was around 2.30pm when I got a call from one of the people around the shop saying the building had developed a massive crack. It looked small and I had left the premises when I got the shocking news that it had crumbled,” said Kaunjika Kaunjika shop manager Keston Tembo in an interview.
By 3.20pm on Monday, Mzuzu City Council town planning officer Yona Simwaka said he was yet to visit the scene with civil engineers to establish the cause.
Mtafu Manda, a physical planning senior lecturer at Mzuzu University, said the accident could be a result of lack of supervision and brings into question the skills and resources of town planners at the council.
“If you look closely, you will find that the foundation of the said building was hanging. The soil was soaked and that could be the reason it collapsed,” he said.
The destructive rains are receding