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Whether New Buildings Are to Be Dismantled – Developers Respond to Seismologists and Geologists

Construction boom has overwhelmed the capital city, but the process may bring disastrous outcomes. Geologists and seismologists warn against threats that may arise after earthquakes.

Problems come from chaotic and uncontrolled construction process. Specialists assert that a major part of new buildings cannot withstand even medium-power earthquake.

Problem consists in geological conclusions that are issued prior to commencement of construction works. Geological exploration exposes the type of ground, its depth. It is a key guidebook for construction materials, technology, the whole project.

Tea Godoladze, director of National Seismology Center and Institute for Earth Exploration Sciences, says that geotechnical works are adulterated and everybody can buy due documents for 100 GEL. At the same time, geologists are not licensed and the state does not have mechanisms for controlling people of this profession.

The current construction policy in Tbilisi obliges the customer to submit a geotechnical conclusion to the municipal office of architecture, along with other documents. Private companies and physical bodies work on conclusions. Exploration of rock layers and construction results are not controlled by the Authorities and they unconditionally trust expert conclusions.

Tbilisi City Hall bears responsibility for neither geological expertise nor quality of construction works that are regulated by extremely outdated norms in Georgia.

The 4.5-magnitude earthquake in Tbilisi took place in 2002. According to seismologists the earthquake belongs to the weak category. Despite this, 12 000 buildings were damaged in Tbilisi, all public schools and academic process was ceased. 7 persons died.

The Caucasus Business Week (CBW) has inquired whether development companies agree with seismologists  and geologists and whether they build reliable buildings.

GDG+ company founder Bezhan Tsakadze disagrees with statements by geologists and seismologists that new buildings are not reliable. All development companies make geological conclusion, because this document is of crucial importance for developing a structural scheme, he said.

«I  do not think  buildings in the capital city are unreliable or hazardous. We personally apply to professional geologists. As to construction quality, the truth is that this component is regulated by old norms. At the same time, there is high-level program too and we follow this program. Therefore, we do no have any mistakes in this direction», Tsakadze noted.

Malkhaz Kunelauri, Redco projects manager, also shares this position of Bezhan Tsakadze. This issue requires individual approach, he said.

«Similar statements are ungrounded. If there is specific violation, it should be examined individually», Kunelauri noted.

It is also inexpedient to subject geologists to licensing, because this mechanism may generate a new source of corruption, he added.

«I do not agree that geologists must be licensed. Licenses do not determine qualification. If licenses are granted to several companies, this may bolster corruption and make several products expensive on the market. In general, I believe that in free economy market processes should be free of bureaucracy and I will hope this will be so», Kunelauri said.

Representatives of multifunctional complex King David say that there were many rumors around King David, however,  the most questions were asked about the  complex foundation ground. There were people, who expressed doubts the  rocky ground could make the foundation fragile, while, in reality, rocky ground ensures the highest level of reliability, the complex representatives pointed out.

«Naturally, the rock was examined  in terms of geological and geophysical aspects. The examination showed that the design benchmark of the foundation corresponded to the rocky ground of the 7th category. The foundation represents a joint reinforcement-concrete plate of 2 meters in height.

To put simply, this is one of the most reliable foundations in Georgia. Any interested body is able to examine geological and geophysical conclusions.

Monolithic reinforcement-concrete frames shape the supporting structure of the building. Space model of the building is to withstand 8-magnitude seismic activity. Quality of construction materials, reinforcement and concrete was systematically examined in the construction process by a qualified research laboratory. After completion of construction works, the existing support structures were examined by domestic and international companies. As a result of expertise conclusion, quality of construction works corresponds to international standards», King David managers noted.

The facade was fulfilled under supervision of German company  SCHUCO. The testing was conducted in Germany and it showed that the facade would withstand any natural disaster, including 9-magnitude earthquake.

Meanwhile, Levan Targmadze, head of Saba Construction company, agrees that there may be real problems in this direction. Obligatory supervision does not refer to private projects and therefore, there are many mistakes, he said.

«We do not make focus on construction of residential buildings. We mainly work on state projects, where there is other mandatory supervision system. As to private projects, there may be more mistakes and quality will be more protected under mandatory supervision», Targamadze said.

As to seismic issues, structures are to withstand 8-magnitude earthquake, he said.

«According to my information, all structures can withstand 8-magnitude earthquake. If construction works satisfy technical norms, I think there should be no problems. As to quality of construction works, I believe we have good standards. We have to only satisfy these standards. I reiterate that we do not have serious problems in this direction, however, supervision mechanisms are necessary», Targamadze noted.