Maan Alkaisi Open Letter to: Mayor Dalziel, Dr. Edwards and Councillors - Christchurch City Council
4 November 2016
From: Professor Maan Alkaisi- Spokesman for the Christchurch Earthquake Families Group
To: Mayor Lianne Dalziel, Councillors - Andrew Turner, Glenn Livingstone, Tim Scandrett, Tim Scandrett, Deon Swiggs, David East, Jamie Gough, Anne Galloway, Aaron Keown, Sara Templeton, Jimmy Chen, Pauline Cotter, Yani Johanson, Mike Davidson, Mike Davidson, Vicki Buck, Phil Clearwater, Raf Manji and Dr. Karleen Edwards -Chief Executive.
Dear Mayor Dalziel, Dr. Edwards and Councillors, Christchurch City Council
On the 27 October 2016, I issued a Personal Statement: Do our buildings lead in engineering design, safety and quality following the Feb 2011 Christchurch earthquake! (Further copy attached)
I am sending this ‘Open Letter’ as a follow up to this, and to also further highlight my specific concerns.
At the conclusion of this letter I have included a number of recommendations for your consideration.
Christchurch City Council’s response to the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission final report December 2012
It is my understanding, that following the release in December 2012 of the final report by the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission, the elected members at that time (2010 -2013), received no formal briefing with respect to the significant inadequacies as set out in report.
Furthermore, that during a deputation I made (December 2013) to the newly elected council, I felt it was not unreasonable to request that staff conduct an elected members briefing of The Royal Commission's final report.
I felt it was critically important that the newly appointed members be provided with an opportunity to make themselves fully aware of the significant failings by the Christchurch City Council, as documented in the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission final report
In summary, the royal commission report found the building permit for the Canterbury Television building (CTV), issued by the Christchurch City Council in September 1986, should not have been granted.
The royal commission report also highlighted inadequacies in the CTV building's construction and concluded that the building should not have been given a green sticker after the September 2010 earthquake.
Of the three council staff who inspected the building, following the September earthquake, none were engineers.
On Boxing Day, 26 December 2010, a series of aftershocks struck within 2 km of the CBD. However, the Christchurch City Council chose not to declare a local state of emergency, which impacted resourcing the response, and the indemnity of engineers conducting building assessments.
I am concerned to hear that apparently the briefing I had requested, and understood was fully supported by the Mayor, was never convened.
Investigation into alleged Chinese dumping of cheap steel on the New Zealand market, some of which might not be code compliant
There have been allegations that some of the Chinese steel is substandard, or lacks proper quality certification.
The Christchurch rebuild has seen a significant amount of steel being used in the construction of many multilevel buildings.
I am surprised that there appears to have been no public response taken and prompted by the Christchurch City Council to ensure public confidence with respect to the steel being used in the Christchurch rebuild.
Christchurch City Council investigation into allegations of “sub-standard “and “dangerous” structural engineering work on five Christchurch buildings
According to the Christchurch Star, the allegations of "substandard" and "dangerous" structural engineering work on five Christchurch buildings include a multi level residential building, three commercial premises and a school. The work was apparently carried out during the last two years.
I appreciate council staff are constrained in making public any preliminary findings while the investigation is underway. However, it is my expectation that the councillors and relevant central government officials and the minister will be fully briefed on an ongoing basis of any developments in the investigation.
I respectfully request the following:
1. that Councillors are briefed on the substantial findings of the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission final report, which will set out the Councils response to the findings, and the subsequent changes to the internal policies, process and procedures;
2. that interested stakeholders, the media and the public will be also fully informed of the abovementioned;
3. that the Council will be open about in its approach for investigating the alleged issues highlighted in the affidavit with respect to the 5 buildings;
4. the investigation is open and will not just ensure that the engineering profession is fully briefed, but this will include central government, relevant authorities for setting building standards and compliance, commercial buildings owners, elected members and the media;
5. given the significant coverage in the media concerning the quality of some imported steel, I would request that elected members should be, in the first instance, appraised of the council's response and kept fully informed of all developments; and
6. I would expect the engineering profession, central government, relevant authorities for setting building standards and compliance, commercial
buildings owners, elected members and the media would also be kept informed of the Council’s response to allegations raised with respect to some imported steel.
In my opinion, I consider that it is critically important for each of you, in your capacity as individual elected representatives, to be vigorous in your vigilance to ensure the past mistakes of the Christchurch City Council are not repeated.
I must say that there is considerable good effort going on in the rebuilding program of Christchurch and the fact that somebody has made us aware of some substandard work should be acknowledged and encouraged.
Furthermore, this vigilance should be applied to ensure that lessons are learned from the Canterbury earthquake, and our buildings lead in engineering design, safety and quality.
Professor Maan Alkaisi
Spokesman for the Christchurch Earthquake Families Group
Do our buildings lead in engineering design, safety and quality following the Feb 2011 Christchurch earthquake!
As a family member who lost a loved one at the CTV building on Feb 22 2011, it is alarming and disappointing to read two articles published recently about substandard buildings constructed within the past two years and at least five of these buildings are in Christchurch, one residential, three commercial and one school.
• “Opportunist builders, dodgy steel and shonky standards create new building crisis 'worse than leaky homes” : The Sunday Star Times, 23/10/2016 by Amanda Saxton and;
• “Dangerous building work claim will be investigated” : The Star, 20/10/2016 by Tom Doudney.
We have been promised by the government that lessons will be learned and that what happened on Feb 22 2011 will not happen again.
It is disturbing then to read the terms, unqualified, inexperienced, non-certified tradesmen, sub-standard, unsafe and dangerous structural engineering work , lack of proper inspection, code non-complaint inductile steel used in constructions around the country.
This made me think so what did we learn from Feb 2011? Aren’t those same reasons (unqualified people, code non complaint buildings) caused the biggest loss of lives in Christchurch? The city and its residents have not recovered yet from what happened five and a half years ago. What excuse the construction companies, the government and IPENZ will use this time to explain any loss of lives or properties?
I have been campaigning in the past five and a half years for better engineering standard, safer buildings, and accountability for this very reason.
It is the responsibility of the government to ensure building code is followed, inspection is carried out to standard and to send a message to the construction industry that sub-standard work and the use of non-compliant building materials will not be tolerated.
We must demand that we have better engineering practice and ethical behaviour together with higher building standard to achieve the promise of safer buildings and safer cities.
Buildings and construction work here in NZ are more expensive than in Australia, and we are not the fastest to build either.
It surely should not be unreasonable, given what we have learnt from the earthquakes, that at the very least our buildings should lead in engineering design, safety and quality.