Iraq: More than 2,000 buildings on verge of collapse, say officials

Iraq: More than 2,000 buildings on verge of collapse, say officials
Infrastructure in oil-rich Iraq is continuing to decay, with thousands of buildings on the verge of collapse and no new roads created in the capital city Baghdad in decades, according to officials.
2 min read
26 March, 2023
Fatal building collapses are an all too common occurence in Iraq [Getty]

Iraqi officials have warned in recent days of crumbling infrastructure as public services remain underfunded.

More than 2,500 buildings across Iraq are on the verge of collapse, the Iraqi Civil Defence Directorate warned as it vowed to hold violators of building safety regulations accountable.

Head of the directorate Major General Mohsen Kazem Allak told the Iraqi state-linked newspaper Al-Sabah that his office had raised the alarm over the issue with higher authorities, including the Council of Ministers.

A committee made up of municipality officials and engineers had been tasked with identifying at-risk buildings, which led to some residents being evacuated from their homes, the directorate said.

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The Directorate of Civil Defence in Muthanna Governorate, Hassan Al-Asadi, told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that "the civil defense does not bear responsibility for the collapses, but rather the authorities [greenlighting] those buildings".

"This is a crime... which necessitates legal accountability and an investigation with the implementing authorities," he said.

The Iraqi Civil Defence Directorate has previously said that their staff are too overstretched and the organisation too weak to deal with building collapses, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.

A senior traffic official told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that no new roads have been constructed within the capital city Baghdad in more than 40 years - a leading cause of the city’s heavy traffic congestion.

Major General Tariq Ismail Al-Rubaie, Director of General Traffic, said the dated road network was failing to accommodate Iraq's growing population, which has increased from 12 million in the late 1970s to roughly 40 million today.

The Traffic Directorate said it has launched a program to identify the kind of work roads require and the associated costs.

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It also shared plans to solve traffic bottlenecks, such as opening free markets on Iraq’s borders which will allow Iraqis to sell their vehicles at reasonable prices.

The directorate is also looking to ban the import of motorcycles, except for those used by government departments, to help reduce congestion.

Though oil-rich, Iraq has for decades suffered from an underfunding of public services and infrastructure due to dictatorship, war, and sanctions, as well as the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and its fallout.

Iraqis have long complained of government mismanagement of funds, and corruption is rife.

The Iraqi government earlier this month approved billions of dollars worth of spending on road projects in Baghdad.