Under the rubble

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Under the rubble

Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga, known commonly as Mobutu, was the President of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) for 31 years. In the local language his name means an unbeaten warrior everybody is afraid of. Mobutu had always hoarded 40 percent of total foreign aid for his country. When he was forced from power in 1997, his wealth exceeded more than $6 billion. This explains why buildings in the Congolese capital Kinshasa were built shoddily. As an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 shook the city on Feb. 3, 2008, 45 people died and thousands of buildings collapsed. However, one building which was built during Belgian colonial rule was in perfect shape.
Three decades ago, Mobutu was proud to construct a five-story national assembly building, which was later found to be of shoddy and faulty construction. Recently, Congo forged a partnership with Korea to build a new 35-story assembly building, on the condition that they would facilitate joint natural resources development.
Canada s Quebec Bridge is one of the world s 10 most beautiful bridges. It overlooks the world s most beautiful and varied scenery, including Montreal s splendid cityscape. The Quebec Bridge is a riveted steel truss structure and is the longest cantilever bridge span in the world, with a total span of 549 meters (1,800 feet) However, there was a tragedy behind this wonderful structure. Twice there were accidental collapses of this bridge, in 1907 and 1916, with 88 deaths. The Canadian government recognized its faulty workmanship later and stopped construction. The construction of the bridge was finally completed after 2.6 times more iron than planned was used. Members of Canada s construction association are said to wear a badge with the picture of the Quebec Bridge to commemorate its construction failures and bear its lessons in mind. Canadian companies have since strived to develop state-of-the-art bridge building technologies and enhanced its construction capabilities.
Schools in China s Sichuan Province have been intensively damaged in the recent earthquake. A total of 6,898 schools collapsed and 1,900 students as of last count were buried in the rubble. The Chinese people are absolutely furious. They say, Faulty workmanship led to the deaths of our children.
The Chinese government promised later that it will severely punish the builders of school buildings found to be shoddily built. No child should be sacrificed any longer. In this instance, Chinese builders should wear a badge with pictures of the collapsed schools as builders did in Canada.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by By Lee Chul-ho [ newsty@joongang.co.kr]
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