1. According to media reports, a building collapsed in Makerere. In this case, it is reported that the lower floors of the building were occupied, while the building was still under construction.
2. It has also been said that the building owner used a non- qualified engineer, and proceeded with plans which were not approved by KCCA.
3. We’ve seen cases of buildings collapsing in Kampala, some of the most recent being at NSSF Construction site in 2008, Magobe Arcade in 2013, Kansanga in 2014 etc.
4. In many of these cases, the story is as if from the same script;
a) Building under construction
b) Building collapses,
c) people are injured or die,
d) Police and KCCA come in
e) Claims that construction plans were not approved.
f) Claims of shoddy works or Engineer not being approved.
WHO SHOULD BE HELD RESPONSIBLE:
5. Legally, if it is proven that the building was sub standard, then someone will have to be brought to account.
6. For example in the most recent building collapse in Makerere, it appears the person bearing direct responsibility is the building owner, but also, the persons affected might wish to hold KCCA liable for not doing enough while an illegal building was being erected.
7. Because in this case, it appears like the plans were rejected in 2009, and yet construction continued until 2016, when it collapsed, and the lower floors were occupied.
8. In case something like this happens to you, first check out if the building construction was approved by KCCA, if so, then they could be liable, if not, then direct responsibility falls with the owner of the building.
9. If the owner of the building is transparent, and depending on the contract signed with the construction company, then the owner could instead pass the blame and responsibility to the construction company.
10. If you know of any one affected by that collapse, tell him/her to seek the appropriate legal redress and not merely sit on his/her rights or try and use unlawful means to get compensated.
CAN AN INJURED PERSON SUE THE BUILDING OWNER:
11. To those injured as a result of the Makerere building collapse, please start off by seeking necessary compensation from the owner of the building. This could be by formally writing a letter to the owner.
12. If that fails, then you should consult a Lawyer and proceed to sue the owner to recover what is called Damages (compensation ) for your injuries.
WHAT ABOUT RELATIVES OF THOSE WHO LOST LIVES:
13. Under the Law, the family of a deceased person can sue another for causing a death, if the death was caused by Negligence.
14. For instance, if the building owner was negligent during construction, then the family of the dead person can go to court seeking to recover money from the driver of the vehicle, or the owners of the vehicle.
15. However, under Section 6(3), the victim’s family must start the court process within 12 months after the accident, otherwise they will not be able to recover through court.
16. However, for one to sue, then such a person must be directly affected as a result of the said death e.g someone like a relative, child, dependent etc.
LESSONS TO LEARN:
1. If you wish to construct a building, ensure you sign proper contracts with the construction company which contract might eventually shield you from liability in case of an accident.
2. Do not commence construction without having your plan approved by KCCA.
3. Finally, and most important, in case of such an accident, do not wait for the matter to reach court, always try to negotiate for an out of court settlement with those affected.
If you require more information on this, or if you have any further questions, please join U-report by sending an SMS with Join to 8500, after joining, you can then ask your legal questions by sending SMS with LAW and send to 8500 (free of charge).