Editorial: Those high-rise structures

THERE can be no knee-jerk reactions in governance, especially if the reaction could have a long-term effect on economic growth. Policies must be well thought of and based on consensus.

This seems to be the unstated response of some sectors to Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s plan to ban the construction of high-rise buildings in his jurisdiction following the fire that hit Metro Ayala Department Store recently. The structure hit by the fire was a high-rise and well enclosed.

The ban, though, is supposedly dependent on how well the current inability of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to deal with large fires in high-rise buildings is addressed. Yet addressing that problem of fires in high-rise buildings won’t be easy and solutions are either hard to get or difficult to implement.

This is why making unilateral decisions is not advisable. The mayor should at least consult stakeholders and listen to their concerns and suggestions.

“We are prepared to sit down with and discuss with local authorities and regulatory agencies because building safety is a shared and mutual concern and a priority for all stakeholders, developers and building owners, especially,” said Dennis Quiokeles, president of the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association, Inc.-Central Visayas (SHDA-CV).

Cebu Business Club president Gordon Alan Joseph has suggestions that could help the mayor make a sound decision on the matter. Joseph does not think a ban would solve the problem.

Among the points that he raised: the need for a “sound practice of risk management by property owners,” updating of the fire and building codes, considering new technology in building design and firefighting, and better and more competent disaster response capabilities by all local government units. Note that Joseph is but one of the stakeholders who presented his views on the issue.

The mayor is not known to be fond of consensus-building. But the city’s economic growth is such that high-rise buildings are mushrooming in his jurisdiction. He needs to listen to stakeholders and experts before resorting to something drastic like banning the construction of high-rise buildings.
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