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Ensuring safety of our building

Source from: New Straits Times, Original Article

LETTERS: The collapse of the 12 storey residential building at Champlain Towers South at South Florida, United States, on June 24, 2021, killing at least five people and leaving 156 more unaccounted for, has raised the concern on the building safety, including here.

Are the buildings in Malaysia safe? Will similar incident occur in Malaysia, where we have many pre-colonial aged buildings that are still being occupied and in use?

In Malaysia, the Uniform Building By-Laws (UBBL) 1984 enacted under the Street Drainage and Building Act 1974 stipulate that all new buildings require submission of plans for approvals prior to construction by a principal submitting person (PSP), such as a Professional Architect and Professional Engineer.

The UBBL 1984 stipulates the building’s structural requirements related to the design and specifications of materials, loadings, foundation and superstructure; which govern the design, specifications and construction of walls, floor and building structure. The UBBL 1984 also stipulated the construction requirements and fire requirements of a building.

The Law of Malaysia under Section 85A of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1994 requires any buildings which are five storeys and above, exceeding 10 years old, to be inspected by a professional engineer registered under the Registration of Engineers Act 1967. The Act also has specified that the responsibility to carry out the periodic inspection lies in the owner of the building upon notice served by the local authority.

The period building inspection shall be carried out by a registered professional engineer and if, after having considered the results of the visual inspection, the engineer reasonably suspects or is of the opinion that there is a defect, deformation or deterioration in the building or its structural elements as will or will likely endanger or reduce the structural stability or integrity of any part of the building he shall request for permission from the local authority to carry out a full structural investigation on the building including investigation in respect of its structural elements.

The Law of Malaysia under Fire Services Act 1988 requires designated premises to undergo an annual fire inspection before they are issued with a Fire Certificate (FC) by the Fire and Rescue Department (BOMBA).

This means that we have stringent law and regulations in place to ensure that buildings structural and fire safety requirements are being complied through the periodic inspection.

However, in order to ensure the safety of the building in Malaysia, it is paramount important that periodic building inspection and annual fire inspection are strictly implemented in Malaysia. It shall be made mandatory that all designated premises in Malaysia should display the Fire Certificate in their building and all building more than 10 years shall display the proof the periodic building inspection carried out.

In the era of Industry Revolution 4.0 and with the Big Data technology; we shall be able compile the information of all the building that is more than 10 years in Malaysia and compel all the premises owner to conduct the periodic building inspection to ensure the safety of these buildings.

The compliance to the regulations specified in the Law of Malaysia will ensure that the building in Malaysia are safe for occupancy.

Wong Chee Fui

Specialist at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), Kuala Lumpur

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

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