Mozambique: New Branch of Central Bank Floods Within a Day of Inauguration

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Maputo — The shoddy work done on building the new branch of the Bank of Mozambique in the central city of Chimoio was cruelly exposed at the weekend, when rainwater poured through the roof and into the new auditorium.

President Filipe Nyusi inaugurated the building last Friday. It cost 571 million meticais (about eight million US dollars, at current exchange rates). The building certainly looks very impressive, and at the ceremony, the governor of the bank of Mozambique, Rogerio Zandamela, said it combines "the standards of modern architecture, beauty, comfort and resilience to climate change".

But there was no resilience. On Saturday there was a storm over Chimoio. Amateur video shot inside the building showed the water pouring through the roof.

The Mozambican rainy season begins in October, so there was nothing particularly surprising about the heavy downpour. The torrential rain only lasted for about 15 minutes - but that was enough to cause a flood inside the building.

The building contractor responsible for the Bank of Mozambique branch in Chimoio is the Portuguese company Soares da Costa.

The Soares da Costa Mozambique office issued a statement giving technical excuses for its rain-sodden performance, concentrating on the fact that the building is not brand new, but is a modification of a structure that once belonged to the Portuguese bank, the Banco Nacional Ultramarino.

Soares da Costa said that the concrete beams and the roof of the auditorium were inherited from the Banco Nacional Ultramarino and consisted of "very porous reinforced concrete". Waterproofing was done with roofing felts, up to a level of the beams "regarded as adequate".

Except that it clearly was not adequate. The pictures of the rain pouring into the newly-constructed building, widely circulated on Mozambican social media, make all excuses redundant.

Lawyers, contacted by the independent television station STV, thought it clear that the contract signed by the building company had been breached, and that the Bank of Mozambique should activate the guarantees given by Soares da Costa, so that the company is obliged to correct its mistakes.

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