Pakistan; the land of pure is prone to frequent earthquakes. The 2005 earthquake of magnitude 7.6 killed thousands of Pakistanis in Azad Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The damage to infrastructure and buildings & houses was enormous in 2005. The recent earthquake on 26 October 2015 of magnitude 8.1 was also a call to hell. According to initial estimates losses were minimal, but now experts say that more than one hundred thousand buildings have been affected. The famous Colonial landmark of Lahore, the General Post Office Building has been badly affected by the recent earthquake. One can easily see the large cracks on the central dome of GPO.
Why damage to houses and building is so high?
Buildings and houses without sound structures are prone to hazards. Pakistan has many buildings and houses with weak structures due to three major reasons. Firstly, people in villages and small towns don’t hire construction experts for building homes. Secondly, many people who hire architects & engineers for building homes don’t follow the specifications; just to save money. Thirdly, building record in Pakistan is very poor, as proper maintenance of old buildings is not a regular routine. Just historic buildings of great importance are renovated. Due to weak structures, buildings & houses collapse during earthquake and other hazards.
Time to promote earthquake resilient construction in Pakistan
The collapse and failure of buildings in Pakistan can be checked by taking the following actions. Firstly, Pakistani government needs to complete the structural survey of buildings & houses. Secondly, according to the findings of surveys, buildings & houses that have passed their useable life should be demolished and buildings & houses that are still useable (but with weak structures) should be repaired. Thirdly, government of Pakistan should make strict laws to ensure that no structure is erected in Pakistan without the approval of local development authorities. Fourthly, people in Pakistan should be educated about the importance of hiring construction professionals and building houses according to the specifications of construction experts. This way we can minimize the collapse & failure of buildings in Pakistan and can save infrastructure & precious lives.