More than 20,000 Bangkok buildings need checking
The Engineering Institute of Thailand (EIT) recently stated that it believes more than 20,000 buildings in Bangkok need to be checked for safety. This followed the collapse of the concrete awning of a building in Chatuchak district in September.
As the EIT stated, rather obviously, maintenance is key to prolonging the life of buildings, with some types of buildings, especially high-rises, already undergoing annual checks by experts to stamp their licences.
The EIT said more than 20,000 buildings, all with an area of at least 10,000 square metres, need to be examined. Most are located in traffic-congested areas, where carbon dioxide can precipitate erosion of structure.
Following the Chatuchak collapse it was suggested that owners of about 4,000 Bangkok buildings have not been sending inspection reports to local authorities.
The EIT noted that under building laws, newly-built structures must undergo an examination every year, with a more detailed examination taking place once every five years.
The EIT also cited concerns about some 12,000 bridges with a total length of 490 kilometres across Thailand which are more than 50 years old. It suggests work is needed to reinforce them so they can handle up to 50 tonnes of weight.
The EIT has asked the Interior Ministry to issue a ministerial decree to ensure every building has a strong structure to sustain weight without requiring further maintenance.
New legislation encouraging the use of quality materials in building are expected to come into force in 2017.
The collapse of the awning of the building in Chatuchak led to some fast action to prevent any further problems.
The building is one of 19 owned by the Bangkok Market Office, which later told tenants to vacate all buildings for their own safety.
The office the hired a team of engineers to assess the condition and strength of its buildings. They found they were not safe to live in as the structures were weak, and therefore needed to be demolished, although some residents were planning on staying.
The EIT said the awnings fell because of the weight of an accumulation of rainwater, while the rain had also eroded the structure. No maintenance had been carried out on the building.
Most buildings at risk of collapse were built before the 1979 Building Control Act took effect.
These old buildings mainly require examinations for deterioration of the structure and reinforcing steel as well as cracks. These dangers can be mitigated if residents checked them regularly and brought in experts to repair damaged parts.