90% of Newly-Constructed Buildings in Baku Should be Demolished – Leader of Azerbaijani Diaspora in Russia
Russia, Moscow / Тrend corr R. Aghayev / An interview with the President of the Federal National and Cultural Autonomy of Russia's Azerbaijanis, Soyun Gasim oghlu Sadikhov. In 1981 Sadikhov began working in Moscow construction organization of Glavmosremont. From 1986 to 2000 he was deputy head, trust manager in Mosrekonstruktsia. Now Sadikhov is the consultant for several Russian and foreign construction companies. In 1994 he was given the rank of honourable architect.
- Regarding the tragedy of the collapsed building in Baku, in your opinion, what is the cause for the incident?
- First of all, via your respectable news agency I would like to convey my condolences to the families of the victims, to the entire Azerbaijani people and in person to the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. When a construction boom began in Baku, when I saw the process of this construction and the specialists engaged in this, I understood and relayed my fears that this type of construction has no future. That is a real communal grave. Some five years ago, I, by myself, saw the buildings under construction in Baku, for instance, a housing estate near the Zoo, plenty of monolithic buildings in the centre of the city, and so on. I saw that they made use of very low-quality reinforcements. The reinforcements being used in Baku absolutely do not correspond with the seismic conditions of Baku. Baku is considered a seismic zone. There is a special Richter scale - between 3 and 7, between 7 and 9, and between 9 and 12.5. Moreover, I paid attention to the concrete and quality of the cement. Cement can be of different durability. There are corresponding indexes - 100, 150, 200, 300, 400, 500. In Baku they mainly use the cement with a rating of only 200-durability. That is incorrect, as this poor durability is not adequate for a monolithic building. At a construction site in Nizami street, which is one of the central streets of Baku, I noticed that fitters were incorrectly tying together the reinforcement and creating reinforcement frameworks in the wrong way. Reinforcement and reinforcement frameworks play a much more important role for monolithic buildings than concrete. I came up to the head of the construction and asked what those standards of incorrect construction of reinforcement frameworks were, but did not receive a clear response. Then I learnt that the construction labourers were mainly from regions, mainly day-labourers, who have no idea about the technical side of construction work at all.
As for the recent tragedy, I attentively followed the news, saw a photo of the collapsed building and was unpleasantly astonished. In the image I saw that this monolithic construction broke up as would a toy-building. But that cannot happen to a monolithic building, it is just impossible. Brick or panel buildings can break up in this way, but not monolithic ones. A monolithic building is different for the reinforcement framework always keeps a part of the building safe whatever the form of destruction. If a monolithic building is blown up, only one side will be destroyed, but the other side will not. Moreover, I was astonished to see how all reinforcement construction bended and the concrete crumbled like sand. The first reason is that the cement was of low-quality. Moreover, concrete-use techniques were not at all observed. At least seven days are required for concrete to become solid. During this period the concrete should not be loaded. Furthermore, climate specification should be taken into account. Weather in Baku is hot. Apparently, they did not water the concrete. When concrete is not watered in such weather, after pouring the water evaporates. After evaporation concrete loses its durability. Therefore, in order to avoid loss of durability, concrete is usually watered in hot countries until it becomes completely solid.
Now I am also the consultant of a Russian construction company which has construction projects in Dubai. In Dubai they also wait seven days, constantly watering the cement. If required, additional dry cement is added on the partially dried cement to prevent washing out. This added cement provides for durability. So, besides non-observation of regulation of building of reinforcement constructions, concrete-use techniques were grossly violated, therefore the concrete crumbled like sand. Besides, it seems like they did not use vibration. Concrete should be vibrated to provide for its even distribution and removal of interstice. Concrete should be like crystal, solid and strong like stone instead of crumbling like sand.
- How would you comment on the construction boom in Azerbaijan?
- You know, I very often visit Baku and observe the ongoing changes. As for this mass and low-quality construction, I have said it many times and I still insist that a huge communal grave is being built in Baku. Baku city is being built without a general plan, and without expertise. In the chase for money and profits people forget to think of how people will live in these buildings. How can one construct a skyscraper without taking into consideration services issues?! A lot of buildings are being constructed in the centre of the city, but there are no new services. Nobody deals with construction of new sewerage, drainage, or water-supply systems. At a location, where previously a five-storey building containing 100 families built during the USSR stood, now a twenty-two-storey building is being constructed, but all the services remain the same. That is absurd. Is it so difficult to understand that a new building means many more dwellers, so new larger sewerage pipes and drainage is required? One cannot construct buildings without preliminary reconstruction of services. Alas, in Baku it is not done, constituent parts of construction process are not taken into account. A general plan of the city considering change of all outer services should be developed at the Executive Power of Baku. And only after this construction should any building begin.
In my letter to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev I offered free of charge consulting for Azerbaijani builders and experts in order to prevent problems. Unfortunately, an organization on construction quality control as it was in the USSR has not yet been established in Azerbaijan. Baku is a seismic area with the probability of earthquakes measuring 9 on the Richter scale. Moreover, research of Baku's soil from space satellite imagery showed that the city is disposed to frequent landslides. The areas of Baku, Makhachkala, and the entire coastal part of the Caspian Sea are considered to be landslide zones. Consequently, the maximum number of storeys that can be built in Baku is between twelve and sixteen. Besides, due to seismic conditions, only monolithic buildings with floating foundations should be constructed in Baku, like it is in Japan, for instance. In short, I think many violations are being made in construction in Baku and in providing adequate services and the guilty and responsible party of that is the mayor of the city and those in charge of the general plan, construction etc. Now virtually everybody, the newcomer starving for money, all of a sudden becomes a builder, and erects buildings. If any five people having no construction education come together and decide to open a construction company, they should be given neither permission, nor opportunity to construct anything. Baku differs from other cities - Moscow, St. Petersburg and others - as, for instance the seismic danger of Moscow is only 2. But in Baku every day you can expect 9. If a thorough investigation is carried out and a laboratory conclusion is made regarding the constructed buildings, I am sure it will show that 90% of them should be demolished. Everywhere in Baku they use Ukrainian reinforcements, which are only adequate for construction of maximum seven-storey buildings, or they use Sumgait reinforcements, which are made of wastes and are not of better quality. Turkish and Pakistani technologies dominate in Baku. By the way, these countries have a good number of examples of destruction and victims when even light earthquakes occur. And that is due to low-quality of construction. Now in this blind rush for wealth people forget the most important thing: which is human lives. After all, in Soviet times, Azerbaijan had top-class builders, professionals, and experts. Why not involve them now? Why have they disappeared? Now yesterday's shepherd considers himself to be a builder, as it was in Russia at the beginning of the 90s. Then people from the CIS countries were coming to Russia saying they can do anything you want in the construction field. And later it was revealed that they were facing construction work for the first time in their lives. Again I want to say that the guilt of this irresponsibility lies with the construction companies and their heads, employing such pseudo-labourers. Greed and cupidity of construction organizations, officials, investors financing such construction is what now happens in Azerbaijan. Such construction should be immediately stopped and measures should be taken to prevent the construction of communal graves for Baku residents. It would be better to construct less but with high quality.
I was also surprised by the close proximities of buildings in Baku. The skyscrapers are built so close to one another that even daylight is unavailable in the offices and apartments. It should not be in this way at all. Look at cities in Europe and Russia. The absence of daylight is just inadmissible. God forbid, if anything happens, these buildings will just collapse one upon another and it will not be possible to rescue anybody. It is disgusting that nobody carries the responsibility for this chaos and nobody stops it. I shall give an example. I personally know a man who was trading in Moscow and now he is engaged in construction work in Baku. He even erected several buildings in the centre. He involved people from the regions, established a construction organization, bribed the adequate persons and is constructing now.
- What are the reasons for the rise in prices in real estate in Baku?
- There is a strict monopoly for that in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has no rivalry in that field, no free access of foreign construction companies. There is a close circle. For example, a brother of some high official is engaged in construction and there is no place for anyone else. Another large problem is general bribery. In London, which is incomparable even for Moscow with its very high prices, if something is constructed and a square metre costs, for instance, three thousand pounds, it is worth the money, for you get a flat with all the conveniences, furniture, etc. As for Azerbaijan, it is not even worth comparing. Very high prices for flats, while elementary safety regulations are not even observed. The first rise in prices in Baku occurred because of Iranians, who apprehending the US's frequent threats of bombing Iran flowed into Baku and began to buy flats. In general, instead of the Emergency Situations Ministry, which is necessary for liquidating emergency situations, but not for control over construction, Azerbaijan requires a reasonable construction scheme with an overlying expertise, construction laboratories, a powerful organization to control construction quality etc. Nowhere in the world can you find such a case.
The city should have a general plan which should be strictly observed without deviation in order to protect the city from disfiguration. In the current Baku, we can watch how the architectural appearance of the central part of the old Baku with its Italian and French architecture styles is grossly violated.