LAHORE: Within a year of its inauguration, the building of Daanish school in Attock district has started crumbling, with major cracks in walls and beams and leaking pipes and roofs – forcing management to close down its two dining halls.
A report by the Chief Minister Inspection Team, which investigated the faults and causes at the Malala Yousafzai Daanish School in tehsil Jand, Attock, says: “The errors (cracks) that have appeared in these buildings are of serious and unique nature and cannot be rectified with confidence. Precious lives are at stake, which cannot be left to chance.” Thus partial closure of the residential school has been ordered by the Daanish Schools Authority.
The report has raised serious concerns about soil survey, building and structural design, material used in the buildings and non-supervision of the work, terming all these factors major causes of the start of collapse of the building that had cost the nation Rs698m within a year.
The school was inaugurated by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Feb 14, 2013, and the cracks in the building started appearing in February 2014. They were still being rectified when “major and minor cracks appeared in all the walls and floors. February this year, cracks in structural beams of the dining halls appeared,” ringing the alarm bells in official circles.
Nespak responsible for structural flaws: CMIT report
Basing its conclusion on observation of three professionals, who were part of the investigation, the report says: “The defects in the building are (result of) structural failure and non-vetting of design and structural designs by the third party. There was no mechanism in place to counter-check plans prepared by the consultant.”
Holding National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak), the consultant, responsible for the faults, the reports says “Nespak did not point out structural design deficiencies and flaws during the entire period of execution. The resident supervision has been carried out in mechanical manners, without any comprehensive and meaningful input on the design of the project.”
The inspection team asked for the complete set of drawings, complete structural design calculations and computer model of the project and found them missing with all the concerned – the Daanish Schools Authority, the consultant, the contractors and the sub-contractor.
Apart from Nespak, “the general manger (engineering) of Daanish authority can also be held responsible for not examining structural designs and point out shortcomings in structural drawings provided by the consultant. The design was squarely left to the consultant, and there was no checking and vetting mechanism in place.”
About the process of awarding contract, the reports says that P&D guidelines were not followed when hiring consultants – for planning, designing, estimation, preparation for tender documents and detailed drawings. When the P&D raised its objections for ignoring its guidelines, the chief minister provided an administrative waiver. When the P&D raised the issue of transparency, the then chief secretary wrote: “The proceedings undertaken so far have been under my direct supervision, the transparency is thus (automatically) assured,” and the CM granted another waiver.
About the causes of building collapse, the report says that geotechnical investigations were not carried out at the building site. Since the building is situated in the Pothohar, the soil investigation was all the more necessary. The available soil survey is of a site almost a kilometer away from the building. To make the matter worse, 37pc material used in the project was not up to the tendering documents’ mark and is now simply falling apart. Because of quality of material, diagonal cracks have appeared in walls, shear and bending cracks in RCC (roller-compacted concrete) beams in dining halls of hostels, settlement of floors, leakage in sewer pipes, problems with slopes of roof treatment while cladding is not properly installed. Even roots of trees were not fully removed before the construction.
About the contractor, the report maintains that “visits to the site and test reports by the Building Research Station prove inferior workmanship and use of low quality material, which is now resulting in leaking of roofs, major and minor cracks in walls and beams and submerging of floors. Proper specifications were provided in tender but they were not implemented by the contractors.”
“The fast track project is falling apart even faster,” comments an official involved in the investigation. The problem is that Nespak, headed by a strongly connected person, is the culprit. Had it been any other government agency, dozens of arrests could have been made by now. In this matter, the CM is forming one committee after another despite the facts being fully known to him, he claims.
Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2015