Collapsed staircase a shoddy job, says city

Independent Online, South Africa/December 18, 2009

The staircase that collapsed at a Joburg inner-city church had not been put up properly, said municipal investigators.

"The engineer provided the City with a preliminary report which indicates that the collapse of the staircase was a result of anchors not being installed according to the manufacturer's specifications," said City of Joburg spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane.

"A more detailed investigation is proceeding, which will address the question of fault and liability."

The metal staircase collapsed during a service at the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God on Sunday December 13, injuring 71 people.

The church had been using the building for less than two months after the R200-million building project at the corner of Eloff and Plein streets had been completed.

Modingoane said the building plans were approved in March this year and the church had had a professional team overseeing the building work, including a structural engineer who gave the city a certificate of compliance with the national building regulations.

"Based on this, and on a final inspection conducted in September, the city issued an occupation certificate dated October 14, 2009," said Modingoane.

The building was designed by Architects @ 126 and built by Barrow Construction, using many sub-contractors. Barrow's website refers to construction starting in January 2008 and Barrow director John Barrow earlier told The Star that construction had taken about 18 months.

The architects' website refers to "four years of meticulous planning and construction".

The building plans appear to have been passed long after construction started. Modingoane confirmed that the plans were passed this year and said construction should not have started before that.

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