Time for building reality check

Kota Kinabalu: It is bounden on Sabah developers to take the initiative to factor in earthquakes of certain magnitudes in their high-rise building designs instead of waiting for a new building code that may take years before implementation.

The advice came from former Sabah Geological Department Director David Lee who told Daily Express that buyers of houses and commercial properties may now also demand that developers state in their brochures that their structures are designed to withstand shocks or tremors of certain magnitudes.

“The question is at what earthquake magnitudes high-rise buildings should be designed for in Sabah. This has also to be resolved,” he said.

He was commenting on the June 5 earthquake which registered between 5.9 and 6 on the Richter Scale with the epicentre at Ranau. The catastrophe was Malaysia’s first serious earthquake and cost the lives of 18 schoolchildren and climbers in Mt Kinabalu.

The 4,093m mountain, the highest in the region, saw boulders crashing and part of one of the fabled Donkey’s Ears rock outcrops near the summit losing its feature.

“The Ranau quake is a wake up call for better actions. This includes scientists who need to prepare a geo-seismic hazard map of Sabah for public information and for the Government to create a geo-hazard services or Search and Rescue centre in Kundasang.

“Remember that ‘paying now is a lot cheaper than paying later’,” he said.

Lee lamented that every time a tragedy happens, there would always be new proposals to avoid the same happening in the future, only to be forgotten after a while.

In the 1980s for example, he said, it was recommended by the Geological Survey Sabah to the Town and Country Planning Central Board that due to earthquake problems, certain parts of Sabah be zoned as “restricted development areas”.

“These areas include some 40 square miles of the Pinosuk Plateau, Ranau town, and Lahad Datu and its surrounding areas. Knowing then that Sabah did not have a building code for structures designed for earthquakes, it was recommended that parts of Pinosuk be not developed and for other parts, buildings should be of limited height.

Read more @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=101019

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