By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 11 May 2013:
At a late press conference held last night, Friday, Housing and Utilities Minister Ali Sherief said that the house that had collapsed earlier in the day killing five people, including a pregnant woman, was probably built in the 1920’s or 30’s.
Sherief added that many of the buildings in the area were due for demolition and that in about 2006-7, under the former regime, many tenants were compensated and had vacated the properties. To compound this problem, many tenants had, without planning permission, added new floors to these very old and weak buildings – without seeking advice from engineers.
Unfortunately, Sherief added, the government had not demolished the buildings and they were, due to the housing shortage, subsequently re-occupied by new tenants. The current tenants are now refusing to vacate them until the government provides alternative accommodation, he explained.
The Minister took the opportunity to warn the public not to re-occupy housing that was previously vacated on the basis that it was unsafe to live in.
Looking forward, Minister Sherief said that the Housing Ministry had a three point plan in response to the building collapse. First, it is going to conduct an audit of the area and the quality and quantity of the housing in it. He admitted that his Ministry had little information about the housing in the area.
Secondly, a technical audit of buildings in the area would be conducted and tenants would be warned if they were found to be living in buildings that were in danger of falling. And finally, Minister Sherief informed that the government was providing temporary rented accommodation to those affected, because no permanent housing was available due to the housing shortage, as well as financial help with the rent.
In the short term Housing Minister Sherief also revealed that the government was going to build 1,200 prefabricated houses in Tripoli as a stop gap measure until permanent housing is ready. This process will be replicated all over Libya, the Minister added. [/restrict]