Sofia Chief Architect: Perilous Buildings are Long-Standing Problem

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | September 20, 2006, Wednesday // 00:00
Bulgaria: Sofia Chief Architect: Perilous Buildings are Long-Standing Problem Photo by Kameliya Atanasova (Sofia Photo Agency)

Petar Dikov is Sofia chief architect. He was approached by Darik News on the morning after a building collapse killed two young women in downtown Sofia.

Vesselina Petrakieva from Darik News talked to Petar Dikov.*

Q: I know you are not an investigator but who is responsible for what happened Tuesday night on 39 Alabin Street? I am pretty sure you have asked yourself this question throughout the whole night...

A: We are yet to think and investigate who bears the responsibility. Whoever is this person, the two girls will never come back. Here I must mention I have the unpleasant feeling, and I have had it since I occupy this position, that we only wait things to happen to remind us we have work to do. Such events control our actions but I have been trying for a long time to change the situation. It is us who have to control events by our actions.

The problem with the dangerous buildings in Sofia has been present for many years now. There is also the long-standing problem of control - the semi and even illegal repair works of ground floors that imperil constructions of old buildings. As I see it, without knowing experts' opinion, the collapse was caused because repair works have been done on the ground floor that damaged some supporting construction. What we have investigated by now is that local administration and Sofia Municipality have issued no construction documents for this building, which means repair works are absolutely illegal.

Q: This is what we are yet to look for - who is responsible - the owners or the hired construction firm. Dozens of Darik Radio listeners warned there are many other buildings in the very heart of the town that might collapse any minute, by the way. What is the capacity of Sofia Municipality to deal with such issues?

A: This issue is one of the many in line that the Municipality has to work on. Let me remind you of the latest events that made us reflect for a while on the topic. These are mainly the Iskar Dam - problems with sanitary and safeguard zone, problems with Roma ethnicity accommodation, problems with traffic blockade in Sofia. These problems had to make us react and start working for their solving.

Currently we are trying to catch up on so many lost years. The problem with building security will be put immediately on our agenda and if we have to, we will even hire foreign experts to solve it quicker. I am currently preparing an order for the facades. It will oblige building owners to renovate the facades in order to avoid any accidents with falling façade parts.

Q: This sounds very promising but you know that many people do not follow orders and also there is no watchdog. Is there enough labour force and good organization to control all perilous buildings?

A: I must say that Sofia Municipality is short of employers but we are hiring more and more people who will be in charge of such issues. I shall repeat that we are in a situation in which we have to catch up on so many lost years. We have to make great efforts because in three months time Bulgaria will be a full-fledged member of the European Union and must function as such on every level.

Q: Many Darik Radio listeners call and ask where and whom they can talk to about illegal repair works and reconstructions of buildings. Can you please give them some information?

A: Citizens can ask and give information about illegal actions in two institutions, namely National Building Control Directorate and Building Control Department in Sofia Municipality.

Q: We have been following closely your work in the municipality. There are wide spread rumors about rampant corruption there. Have you ever received corruption tip-offs?

A: Yes, I have made several investigations following corruption signals, but I have not found any violations. We will make an internal check-up though and we will inform you of the results.

Q: This is something new - this check-up is highly needed. Can you outline some particular actions for the control of these perilous buildings?

A: As I have already mentioned, I will issue an order for an inquiry into the buildings in the block of the collapsed one. I will also bring together a working group that will start an inquiry into buildings that are believed renovated. I hope that within a month we will have prepared a report for the media.

Q: Then you should start working from today...

A: We have started already.

*Translated by Lora Petrova, Sofia News Agency

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