A building collapsed, killing many people. Will it happen here?
There were signs that unmistakably pointed to a disaster waiting to happen. Nothing much was done. Then the disaster happened. About 12 former residents were confirmed dead. More than a hundred still unaccounted for. It is about a week before that it happened, and rescue or recovery workers are still toiling day and night into the rubble to try to get to anybody who could be alive… if not, then to retrieve bodies pinned down underneath.
There had been signs as early as 2018. Some cement cracked on the lower parts of the building exposing structural steel, the garage got flooded with salt water a number of times. but the administrators or those who should be taking care of repairs did not think the situation was an emergency. They dilly dallied, and so the grim outcome.
Half way around the planet to where we are, can it also happen here in Baguio City? During the killer quake in 1990, many prominent high rises around town collapsed, causing thousands of deaths. While that might be something better forgotten than remembered, its lessons should keep us alert all the time. But are we? Up to now, about a week after that Surfside, Florida disaster, we have yet to hear of building inspections around Baguio City. Even with persistent talks since 1990 that some local high rises were not condemned for demolition because some building officials were “massaged” with cash.
As some American officials said about the Surfside building collapse, that doesn’t happen in America. But it happened. And it is happening every time in third world countries.
With corruption and substandard infrastructure being parts of our everyday life, it would not be long before we would be shaking our heads, “we should have learned a lesson from the Surfside disaster.” And we will say that when an infrastructure collapses right on our collective face resulting in loss of lives.
A few months back, the main bridge below the Capitol at La Trinidad, Benguet that connects to the Halsema Highway was partly damaged causing daily tremendous traffic. That is a very old bridge that should have been demolished to give way to a new one. But it was just remedied with a patch work.
We are often too intelligent for our own good, and often times with nary a respect for human lives.**