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Monday, 31 March 2008

City Centre crack

Staff Correspondent

Dhaka City Corporation has formed a five member enquiry committee to probe into the fractures that have developed on the outer wall of the under-construction 'City Centre' building in the Motijheel business district.

City Centre—projected to be the country's tallest high-rise on completion—is being raised on land owned by the city corporation.

DCC mayor Sadek Hossain Khoka, speaking Sunday at a press conference at Nagar Bhaban, said the committee has been asked to submit its report within the next 15 days, identifying the probable causes for the cracks that have spread along the building's two first floors.

Construction work will remain suspended until the committee's report is complete, the mayor added. However, commercial offices located in the building have been allowed to resume activities on the basis of a primary report by a team of BUET experts.

City Centre was evacuated Saturday, and offices in adjacent buildings were also closed as a safety precaution, after cracks started appearing along the western wall of the building. Adjacent to the City Centre development lie the Uttara Bank head office, Janata Bank Tower, BCIC Bhaban and the National Life Insurance Company building.

The three companies housed in the western portion of the City Centre building —Standard Chartered Bank, HSBC Bank and a GrameenPhone Centre—will reopen their doors from Monday. The probe committee is being headed by BUET professor Sheikh Sekendar Ali, the mayor said.

The other committee members are BUET professor Joynul Abedin, a representative of the army engineering corps, a senior engineer of the directorate of Public Works and a DCC executive engineer. The building's developers said Sunday that cracks found spreading along the western wall have not been caused by any structural faults.

The high-rise is designed to eventually comprise 37 floors of office space, a convention centre, a business lounge, gymnasium, food court, recreational areas and a garage. It is being constructed by local developer Orion Group in partnership with the UAE-based Belhasa Group that constructed the 7-star hotel Burj Al Arab in Dubai.

Belhasa project director KM Nurul Islam told reporters Sunday that after cracks appeared in the brick walls of the two lower floors, a team of construction experts headed by Prof Abdur Rouf from BUET's civil engineering department inspected the building.

"After examining the damage, Prof Rouf said the building was structurally sound and hence quite safe," Islam said. He said the cracks had developed due to faulty construction of the brick walls, which will be corrected soon.

Quoting the experts from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Islam said the structural soundness would not be affected at all by the faults in the brick work. Islam had also told reporters Saturday that the cracks may have been caused by the recent earthquake.

However, he added, it could not have affected the buidling's structure which was designed to absorb shocks of earthquakes measuring up to 7.0 on the Richter scale.

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