KAMPALA- UGANDA/NEWSDAY: A Ugandan minister has revealed that most if not all Ugandan storeyed building can survive a strong earthquake because of their substandard nature.
The revelation has sent shock waves among the millions of Ugandans living and working in storeyed building in the east African country.
The developments by works state minister Musa Ecweru come at the time several buildings have collapsed both in Kampala and outside while still under construction, killing a number of people.
However, Ecweru insists more catastrophe awaits Ugandans since buildings lack the basic minimum provisions for withstanding earthquakes.
The minister said he was shocked by results of a probe directed by President Museveni to ascertain the strength of buildings in Uganda in case an earthquake struck.
In 2016, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit parts of Rakai district leaving several people injured.
President Museveni then asked Disaster Preparedness Minister Hillary Onek to assess the impact of the earthquake that shook the bigger parts of Uganda and left hundreds of families with cracked houses.
Earthquakes occur when tectonic plates which are the uppermost layer of the earth’s solid shell collide. They can also be a result of the sudden energy releases in the earth’s solid shell which create seismic waves that result in the ground shaking.
Earthquakes can go as deep as 700km depending on the classification.
The US Geological Survey classifies earthquakes thus, “Shallow earthquakes are between 0 and 70km deep; intermediate earthquakes, 70 – 300km deep; and deep earthquakes, 300 – 700km deep. In general, the term “deep-focus earthquakes” is applied to earthquakes deeper than 70km.”
The quake which happened at the border of Tanzania and Uganda stretched as deep as 30km. This can be classified as a shallow earthquake. However, the quake went as wide as 200km considering the impact it left in various places including an 100km road which was damaged.
Uganda is not new to earthquakes and experts consider various areas to be epicentres such as the Rwenzori region, Kampala, Mubende, Mbarara, Hoima, Entebbe and Kabale.
Earthquakes terrorized the Rwenzori region in the 1960s leaving at least 150 people dead.
In the 1990s, another earthquake hit the Rwenzori area leaving behind destruction worth millions of shillings.
In 2013, three tremors hit various areas of Uganda including the Albertine region and Kampala area measuring the magnitudes of 5.3-5.7.
In an interview with local media, Fred Tugume, a geophysicist, said: “Earthquakes have been there. We live with them. However, this repeated occurrence is worrying. We are going to analyse the phenomena and see why.”
In 2021, the National Building Review Board and Kampala Capital City Authority condemned more than 500 buildings in Kampala “as part of a massive crackdown on unlawful structures in the city’s five divisions.” Among the reasons advanced for the condemned buildings was that of people’s safety.
In 2022, KFM reported that, “More than 4000 buildings in Kampala were constructed without officially approved structural plans which could partly explain the increasing cases of collapsed buildings.”
KFM was quoting KCCA Deputy Executive Director David Luyimbazi.
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