Safety fears as elevator plunges 14 floors, injuring seven
- The initial investigations show that the crash was caused by exceeding weight limits, but other reports say the lift was faulty and had been sealed of for sometime
Dar es Salaam. The crash of a lift at the well-known “Millennium Towers 2” in the Makumbusho area in Dar es Salaam yesterday has triggered debates and concerns about safety issues in high-rise buildings in the city.
The accident happened around 9am yesterday and left seven people with varying degrees of injuries.
Millennium Towers is an iconic structure in the Makumbusho area along a section of the new Bagamoyo road that is known as the ‘Silicon Dar’ because it harbours several noteworthy tech and communication enterprises.
But the incident, in which the lift crashed from the 14th floor, has cast a shadow over the SIlicon Dar’s reputation, leaving the public questioning the adherence to safety protocols and the responsibility of those involved in maintaining the skyscrapers.
The initial investigations show that the crash was caused by exceeding weight limits, according to Tanzania Fire and Rescue Department Assistant Inspector Patrick Mohamed Afande.
All the victims were part of a group that was attending a three-day workshop in one of the building’s conference facilities.
Kinondoni’s Fire Department Inspector Peter Mtui said all seven men injured in the accident, who were all men, were swiftly transported to nearby Kariuki Hospital for medical attention.
According to Kairuki’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Onesmo Kaganda, the hospital received the injured people at around ten in the morning.
Among them are those with broken limbs, while others suffer from psychological shock.
“You know, going from the 14th floor to the ground floor is not a small thing; one has to experience shock, but we have treated them, and they are all doing well,” he said.
While the exact details regarding the exceeding weight and the individuals responsible are yet to be disclosed, the initial findings have intensified the scrutiny surrounding Millennium Towers’ safety procedures and protocols.
The Public Service Social Security Fund (PSSSF), which is the owner of the building, has expressed deep concern and remorse over the incident.
In a statement released shortly after the collapse, they affirmed their commitment to cooperating fully with the authorities’ investigation and taking immediate action to rectify any safety shortcomings that may have contributed to the tragedy.
Issued by the public relations manager, Mr James Mlowe, the statement reads, “PSSSF, as the owner of the building, in collaboration with Ms Prolaty Ltd, will monitor, manage, and correct any potential structural deficiencies that may have arisen so that the tenants and users of the building can continue with their duties as usual as soon as possible”.
There are also conflicting reports that the elevators in the building have been broken for several days now.
One of the tenants, who did not want his name to be mentioned in the newspaper due to not being a spokesperson for the institution, said that the elevator had not been used at all for quite a while.
“It is true that the elevator was faulty and was completely unusable, and there was a tape, but on Monday of this week the tape was removed, and we started using it as part of the testing,” he said.
“I, myself, have used it. But during the collapse incident, I was down waiting for it because I was planning on going to the top floors,” said the source.
Speaking to the sister paper, Mwananchi building manager Mr Martin Mhina said that out of the six elevators that were working in the building, only two were intact and effective, and that has been the case since last year.
According to Mr Mhina, repairs for the faulty elevators started at the beginning of May this year. Three were repairable, and two needed to be replaced.
“During the period when the elevator was under maintenance, we put up red tape that was very visible, and we also informed all our 49 tenants present here about the malfunctioning elevator,” he said, adding that most of those who were inside when it fell down were guests who did not have that information.
The information from the building management did not convince the regional commissioner of Dar es Salaam, Mr Albert Chalamila, who visited the site soon after coming from the Kairuki hospital where the injured are currently treated.
Chalamila questioned the management and directed a thorough investigation on how and why they allowed such a faulty elevator to be used to carry people up and down the building.
“I don’t understand how you are testing a broken elevator by allowing it to carry unsuspecting people up and down; the police must look into this in detail,” instructed the RC. The RC also directed owners and managers of highrise buildings in the city to make sure they do regular maintenance as a preventative measure for catastrophic incidents such as this one.
One of the ground floor tenants, Ms Lucy Tilya, said that when the incident happened, she was in her shop on the ground floor and heard a loud noise that frightened her, such that she had to rush outside to see what happened.
After a while, she said, there were cries for help from people in the elevator.
Mr Joe Alex who also works inside the building, said as he walked outside to find a place to have breakfast, he heard a big ‘bang’ coming from inside. Before long, he found out that there had been a terrible accident.