Leaders blame disaster effects on planning issues and climate change


01-February-2013

A house under construction damaged by landslide during the recent heavy rains

President James Michel and several of the ministers who accompanied him on Wednesday during his visit to Au Cap, Anse aux Pins and Pointe Larue said this after seeing the damage flash floods had caused in the three districts.

Mr Michel noted that we had got used to a certain way of building houses mainly because the climate remained stable, for example with low foundations.

He noted, however, as climate continues to change – which is a topic he has been stressing on in international forums – situations are changing, hence we got heavier rainfall than we have ever received.

He noted that while drainage channels were previously enough, they are now becoming too small for flash floods considering also that with increased development, rather than water falling on the ground and being absorbed, it is being collected on rooftops then flowing downstream making original channels inadequate.

He said our planners now must consider such factors when proposing how houses and drains should be.

A number of the building that have been damaged that his delegation saw are from earth, mud and rocks and debris crumbling down from uphill development of the affected houses.

Environment and Energy Minister Professor Rolph Payet said that during the survey of the many areas where landslides affected families, many weaknesses were found with regard to failure to follow building guidelines.

Journalists heard him pointing out that the many uphill properties they visited did not, for example, have storm water gutters which caused water to accumulate around houses and not be discharged away from the buildings as required by law.

“Drainage has been found to be a major problem,” he told Nation.
Members of the delegation said it is important that the Planning Authority steps up its supervisory role to ensure building guidelines are properly followed.

They wondered how major construction works could have began without retaining walls, but a member of the delegation who once worked for the authority said most probably such walls were specified as requirements but the builders simply ignored the need.

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