Rethink vital designs

Editorial

IN counting the costs of repairing or rebuilding after the destruction wrought by strong winds, heavy rains and flooding recently, there are a few lessons to be learnt as well.
And that has to do not only with the country’s preparedness to face and mitigate impacts of natural and manmade disasters, but Government agencies and other concerned institutions or business should now re-think how important assets needed for growth and well-being such as roads, bridges and wharves are constructed to stand the test of time and changes in weather patterns.
Nature has a habit of testing the integrity of man’s engineering and building expertise as has been demonstrated well in the present weather conditions throughout the country.
Most regions of the country have at one time reported damages done to roads and bridges during the heavy rain periods recently.
Some may take a few days to repair while work on others will go on a little longer.
Past Works ministers have raised their concern about the state’s building enterprises, structures of the past decades that have been ‘found wanting.’
One thing for sure, the effect that the kind of engineering techniques and building materials used in infrastructure such as roads and bridges then are no longer reliable anymore to stand the ravages by weather conditions today.
Costs of the damages done to vital roads and bridges among other vital infrastructure are figured in the millions of kina already.
Additionally, relief assistance to affected communities would raise the overall costs higher.
Climate change and deforestation have also been attributed to the extreme weather conditions and the impact on the environment and people’s lives.
In order to restore transport services for a return to normalcy in people’s livelihoods and the operations of business, some quick solutions such as constructing temporary log bridges would be have to be put in place.
However, over time and with the availability of resources, more durable bridges and roads will have to be built to withstand the forces of nature.
There will be no room for quick fix patch work anymore. Builders can get away with sub-standard work for millions of kina but nature does uncover their faulty workmanship soon enough.
One other important point to be from this recent flooding and landslips is the response by communities.
Also, population growth does have an impact on the environment as more land is cleared to feed more people.
This is something people must understand and take responsibility for.
Where state authorities can humanly help, every effort should be made to bring relief to those affected.
Beyond that, people have to live with a respect for nature and their immediate environment which happens to be their best insurance policy for now.
Clearly, planners, engineers and builders responsible for the infrastructure destroyed or rendered unusable, had not foreseen the destructive force of nature which are testing the integrity of those structures today.
It is time for a rethink on the part of present day engineers and designers of these vital assets of national growth.

Leave a Reply