ROUGH CUTS| The Aeon Towers controversy – 2

“CAAP to conduct test flights as Aeon cranes to be taken down.”

This is this paper’s page 2 top story and it deals with the intention of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to conduct test flights after the commitment of the engineer of Aeon Towers condominium to take down its giant crane on top of the highest level of the high rise structure along J.P. Laurel Highway in Bajada, Davao City.

Frankly, we cannot see the logic of such move. Why conduct the test flights only after the removal of the giant crane? Why not do it while the crane is still on top and while it is using its boom at its maximum operating height?

We believe that it is only by conducting the tests while the crane is still on top that it can be effectively determined if there is possibility that a landing or a taking off plane will hit either the building or the crane’s boom when it passes on that spot at the same level from the ground to the highest point of the crane in operation. To do it after the crane is removed would definitely not serve the purpose.

And here is, to us, another illogical claim by the CAAP. Allegedly, there were four plane flight misapproaches at the airport the agency recorded last week. Why, has the installation of the crane on top of the tower distracted the pilot’s sight? Were the planes that had misapproached the airport on a night flight that the pilots could have mistaken the crane’s warning light as that of the airport’s tower?

Is that area in Bajada really the flight path of a landing plane?

Perhaps these questions should be given honest answers because how would the CAAP traffic controllers know if the misapproaches were actually error in judgment by the pilots themselves?

We are no lapdog of the developer of Aeon Tower. In fact we don’t know any of the company’s officials. We even are a recipient of negative stories about the developer in connection with the execution of its project.

However, in the case of its Bajada high rise project imbroglio, we strongly believe that the developer is not solely to blame.

The city government has its regulatory powers in all development activities that will come in the locality. We have the City Council that approves of any application to put up infrastructure projects especially those that have major impact on the socio-economic growth and environmental concerns of the city. We have the City Planning and Development Office and the City Engineer’s Office that provide the local legislative body the relevant inputs for its members to approve or reject any development application. And when the application for a project is approved by the City Council it is already assumed that everything is in order. Thus, the City Mayor now has basis to finally approve such project, the end result of which is the granting of its permit to operate.

In the case of Aeon Towers, it is issued a building permit which, without any doubt, was also premised on the approval of the project itself by the City Council based on existing ordinances.

Now, if the construction of the condominium tower has already gone that high and it is only recently that some sectors have noticed that it is already posing danger to airplane flights, then those people from the regulating offices of the city have dismally failed to do their job. That is, the monitoring of the progress of the Aeon Tower construction.

In other words, they could have been sleeping on their job. Or, worse of all, they could have been lulled to sleep by certain “forces” beyond any effort of theirs to resist.

In fact, these project monitors could have already been given advance opportunity to peek into what was likely to happen on the Aeon Tower project when a side property belonging to a mall immediately beside the high rise condo collapsed.

When that incident happened investigations were conducted by the City Engineer’s Office with assistance from some private structural engineering firms. Apparently, the result of the probe was kept from the knowledge of the public for reasons only the management of the two establishments know.

That collapse could easily be attributed to the laying of the Aeon foundation no matter the denial by those concerned that might have followed during the conduct of the probe. And considering that the integrity of the foundation of any building has to be reckoned with its height, it is surprising that the investigators of that earlier incident had not thought of the height issue of the building.

Had they factored it in the determination of the cause or causes of the collapse then the issue of the tower’s height could have been preempted and the necessary downward adjustment in the number of floors be recommended.

Of course, it is a different story if the developer deliberately did not declare the true number of floors of the building in their application for a construction permit to avoid paying a bigger fee. We know of some building owners doing this mode of cheating the government. But to make sure that it is still safe for the owners to add one or two levels from the design it has submitted to the City Engineer’s Office for acquiring the building permit, all the owners usually do is prepare the foundation for the number of floors to be added later.

If this is the case of the Aeon Tower then that project deserves what the Davao City government intends to do with it if only to let its developer toe the line.

Posted in Opinion