Minister of Public Works and Housing Mustafa Demir, citing the issuance of fake and illegal eligibility reports as the major source of problems in the construction of illegal and unregistered buildings in Turkey, has pledged to introduce deterrent sanctions for those responsible including a ban from practicing the profession.
Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, Demir made statements on the progress made so far with respect to disaster management on the tenth anniversary of the notorious Aug. 17 quake. Stressing that the said quake was a huge disaster, Demir added that Turkey has become familiar with the concept of durable buildings and construction after this incident.
Demir explained that much progress has been made with regard to the construction of durable buildings since the quake, and briefly detailed a recently adopted bill on the inspection of buildings. “We are working on a system that will apply to the entire country. But I should emphasize that this new system will introduce a different concept and mechanism which will require additional regulations to the current inspection practices done during construction. We need a comprehensive tool that will introduce tough sanctions against the negligent parties in the construction of illegal buildings and include a wholesale action plan for design, construction and use.”
Bills on engineering and construction will be introduced
Recalling that they have been working hard to updated bills on civil engineering and architecture, Minister Demir said the range and content of the profession should be drawn for the sake of precision. A separate inspection system is needed on the practice of this profession, Demir said. “Above all, an inspection system is needed for those who practice in the professions of design and civil engineering among others. Buildings should be subjected to a thorough inspection from the beginning and so should those responsible for the building work. All this is needed for a working system. If the building itself is made the subject of the whole process, then it becomes easier to locate and determine the problem. For instance, say, if the problem stems from the designer, then he or she should be held responsible for this. If the problem is caused by the workers, then the responsible engineers and contractors should be subjected to the relevant sanctions. These are not tough issues. This is a mechanism that will function within a working system. We are working on this.”
The whole problem can be resolved via a three-stage action plan -- proper project design, implementation and inspection -- the minister said, adding that Turkey has failed to do this so far because there were no effective measures taken against those responsible. Minister Demir also said they will introduce a detailed set of sanctions, which will include a ban from practicing the profession.
In response to a question about Turkey's current position on quakes, Demir said: “We have fallen into this situation because of negligence and ignorance about illegal buildings. We need to take action to address this problem and eliminate the whole concept of illegal and unregistered constructions. The notion of illegal buildings should be history after the implementation of our projected measures.”
Works on strengthening of the buildings not enough
In response to a query by a correspondent who asked: “You are offering a solution to the buildings that will be included in the content of the urban transformation. But are you considering the introduction of tax incentives, long-term loans or other models for the owners of weak buildings? Is there any such project?” Minister Demir said: “Some work has been done for the strengthening of weak buildings. But this is not sufficient. Funding these projects is pretty important. Say, one has a building that needs reinforcement; we have not yet developed a standard to ensure this. This is something that requires large amounts of funds. But unfortunately, we have not made any progress on this matter. We have to create a model that will address this issue as soon as possible.”
Asked about what will be done to complete the repair and reinforcement of the buildings moderately damaged during the Aug. 17 quake, Demir said: “There is no single building that is registered and not reinforced. The buildings that still require repair and reinforcement are the unregistered ones. We are working on a new model to resolve this problem as well.”