BEIRUT: Deputy Prime Minister Samir Mokbel announced a decree Monday that is intended to increase the safety of Lebanon’s buildings, reducing the possibility of collapses and other disasters.
The decree, which will go into effect next Thursday, requires a pre-building written contract between land owners and consultancy firms, as well as between owners and builders.
In order for a building owner to secure a housing license, they will be required to obtain a report from a committee of inspectors certifying that basic safety measures are in place.
Speaking at a news conference at his Rabieh residence, Mokbel hailed the decree as one of the current government’s “most important achievements.”
Public Works and Transportation Minister Minister Ghazi Aridi, who announced the decree with Mokbel, said, “during a certain period [the Civil War] we suffered from anarchy, chaos, a lack of control and a lack of accountability.” More recently, he said the methods of the public administration had led to “catastrophic consequences.”
At the beginning of this year, a residential building collapsed in the Ashrafieh neighborhood of Fassouh, killing 27 people and injuring dozens of others.
Aridi said the decree includes “rational restrictions” that protect public safety, stressing that “we don’t intend to impede construction” in the country and that the rules are not difficult to follow.
The minister called for the decree’s full implementation, and vowed that there would be “no leniency in ensuring public safety.”
“Government departments, private sector companies and citizens who are concerned about their safety and stability should all shoulder their responsibilities,” Aridi added.
Elie Bsaibiss, head of the Beirut Order of Architects, hailed the efforts of Mokbel and Aridi to issue the decree, which he said has been in the making for 15 years. “We have been struggling to make it a reality since it was first suggested in 1997.”
“Lebanon is located in an earthquake and tremor zone, and this decree was issued so that our buildings will have more safety measures and be more durable,” Bsaibiss added.
Elaborating on the decree’s benefits, Bsaibiss said it would help make it clear who is responsible for accidents if they do happen.
“When an accident takes place we demand punishment for those who are responsible for it, whether it was the architect who oversaw the construction operation, the municipality who issued the construction permit, the Department of Urban Planning or the Order of Architects.”