(Photo: China Daily)
Home to more than 47,000 buildings taller than eight stories and a population of 24 million, Shanghai could soon become the first city in China to include inspections for potential falling objects in its urban management network.
Neighborhood property managers should be informed promptly about any objects that might fall from buildings, and they would be responsible for setting up any warning tape or protective covers that were needed, the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said.
Property owners and residents would be the first people held responsible for such safety issues and would be responsible for routine safety checks of the building and attached facilities as well as repair and maintenance, according to a policy the commission will unveil soon. They would also be held responsible for any accidents that occurred.
Shanghai's subdistricts have been further divided into grids since 2013 to make urban management more effective. Maintenance of roads, greenery and public facilities - including fire hydrants, public telephone booths and bus stops - has been included in the management system, and the new policy will add management of falling object risks to the list.
The commission said the developer or construction unit would be held responsible for repairing safety hazards if the building's design or construction quality resulted in a risk of falling objects. But property owners would be held responsible for any hazards caused by natural aging or inadequate routine maintenance.
Objects falling and striking people are a hidden danger in cities with many high-rise buildings, the commission said. Shanghai has more than 1,700 buildings over 30 stories tall and more than 330,000 elevated outdoor billboards. Air conditioners, clotheslines and poles attached to buildings' exteriors also pose a serious risk as they might become loose and fall.
"One long-standing difficulty in preventing accidents from falling objects is that property owners believed it was always the developer's responsibility to maintain and repair the exterior walls because that was part of construction quality," Zhang Lixin, deputy head of the Shanghai Housing Management Bureau, told Shanghai Radio.
"But this policy makes it clear that property owners will be held responsible for the maintenance or replacement of hidden dangers, such as thermal insulation materials on exterior walls, if the building has passed its warranty period and the materials have expired."
The danger of falling objects is heightened during typhoon season. The National Meteorological Center renewed an alert on Thursday for a typhoon that might make landfall on the coast of Zhejiang province, neighboring Shanghai, on Friday night or Saturday morning.
The Shanghai commission said it had completed inspections of more than 220,000 buildings in 9,150 neighborhoods.