Thursday, 4 April 2013
Tanzania: 11 in court over high-rise building deaths
The owner of the building that collapsed in Dar es Salaam last week, Mr Razah Hussein Razah (right), and his co-accused leave the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court after they were charged with manslaughter yesterday. PHOTO | MICHAEL JAMSON
By Rosina John
The Citizen Correspondent
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 23:11
Dar es Salaam. Eleven Dar es Salaam residents were yesterday arraigned at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court and charged with manslaughter connected with last Friday’s collapse of a 16-storey building in the city.
The accused, including the owner of the building, Mr Razah Hussein Razah, appeared before Resident Magistrate Devotha Kisoka; however, they were not allowed to enter any plea because the Kisutu court has no jurisdiction to hear their case.
Charged along Mr Raza are two officers from the Architects and Quantity Surveyors Registration Board (AQRB) Albert Mnuo, assistant registrar and Joseph Ringo, a principal enforcement officer.
Others are Mr Charles Ogape, Mr Zonazea Anage and Mr Mohamed Abdukar who are engineers and Mr Vedasto Ferdinand, a quantity surveyor, Mr Michael Hemed, architect and businessmen Goodluck Sylivester, Mr Wilboard Mugabyaso and Mr Ibrahim Kisoki.
The accused face 24 counts of manslaughter. According to the charges read by State Attorney Benard Kongola, on March 29 this year at Indira Gandhi Street in Ilalal District, the accused caused the deaths of Yusuph Shapia,Kulwa Alfan, Hamadu Musa, Kessy Manyapa and other 20 people.
After reading the charges, Mr Kongola asked the court not to grant bail to the accused on the grounds that the Kisutu court has no jurisdiction to grant bail as the case will be heard by the High Court.
However, defence counsels led by advocate Jerome Msemwa objected the request, arguing that the lower court has the powers to grant bail in charges waiting to be heard by the High Court.
The defence submitted that, there have been previous cases related to collapsing buildings that caused people’s deaths in which the High Court ordered the lower court to grant bail to the accused.
Replying to the submission, Kongola argued that the submission by the defence was not relevant because the case was premature since its investigation was still incomplete.
However, Kongola asked the court that if it were to grant bail to the accused, it should consider the nature and the gravity of the charges they are facing.
After hearing the submissions from both parties, magistrate Kisoka said that she would give her ruling on April 16.
The 16-storey building, which was under construction along Indira Gandhi Street at the city centre, collapsed on March 29 and 36 people died.
The ill-fated building near Shia Ithnasheri Mosque along Indira Gandhi Street, gave way at around 8.30am.
The disaster revived memories of the 2008 incident involving a 10-storey building which crumbled along Mtendeni Street also in the city centre, in which two people died and several others got injured.
To date, the findings of a commission that was formed to investigate the tragedy have not been made public. Besides, no legal action has been taken against the culprits, in spite of Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda’s pronouncements to that end.
Immediately after the collapse of the building last Friday, the Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Said Meck Sadick ordered that construction work on the building opposite the collapsed one be stopped.
The ill-fated building was a joint project between National Housing Corporation (NHC) and MS Ladha Construction Ltd under Public Private Partnership (PPP).
NHC director general Nehemiah Mchechu admitted that the corporation owned the plot but had leased it to an investor.
He said the contract was signed in 2008 by the former management under the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) contract system.
The NHC was not responsible in any way with the disaster, for the contract categorically charged the investor with complying with laws and regulations guiding construction industry, said NHC boss.
Deputy Ilala Mayor Heri Kessy said the contractor was given a permit for the construction of a 10-storey building.
“The contractor was given a greenlight in 2007 and he had met all the required criteria. So, if he went contrary to his document, appropriste steps should be taken by the relevant authorities’’, said the deputy mayor.