Collapse liability demanded

OLIVIA CARVILLE
Last updated 07:41 25/11/2013

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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The lack of accountability over the collapse of the CTV building has left victims' families feeling as though the Government does not care.

"The lives of 115 people deserve more than what they have done so far," widower Maan Alkaisi, who lost his wife in the collapse, said.

It has been almost three years since the February earthquake shook the Canterbury Television building to the ground, killing 115 people.

Last December, a royal commission of inquiry into the building's collapse identified serious deficiencies in its design and construction and found it should not have been issued a building permit.

The inquiry was unable to apportion blame, but its final report found the building was designed by an engineer out of his depth and was overseen by a boss who should have known better.

Yet, to date, no-one has been held to account.

"If the Government really cared about all those people who died, they would have done something by now," Alkaisi said.

Police are still assessing whether to pursue any criminal charges in relation to the CTV collapse and a police spokeswoman would not put a timeframe on when the assessment would be completed.

The lack of accountability for the deadly collapse hit the headlines recently, with Building Minister Maurice Williamson telling Parliament it was an "unacceptable dilemma" that the man whose firm designed the CTV building, engineer Alan Reay, was still practising in Christchurch.

On Sunday, Fairfax also reported five Japanese fathers, who lost children in the collapse, felt that until someone accepted liability for the building's failures, their loved one's deaths would have been for nothing.

Christchurch families feel the same pain. "If they don't take action it means they don't care. We have been through the most difficult times in our lives and the inaction just prolongs our suffering," Alkaisi told The Press.

He believed it was offensive to the families that Reay was able to continue practising in Christchurch while police were investigating.

Alkaisi has written three letters to Prime Minister John Key asking why no-one has been held to account.

"We know the building was non-compliant and illegally built and there must be consequences," he said. "We will not leave this alone until justice is done."

Former Christchurch Girls' High School principal Prue Taylor, who lost her husband in the collapse, said the Government's inaction was "totally unacceptable".

"It shouldn't be for a group of people who just happened to have families who worked and died in the building to follow up at their own expense and in their own time," she said.

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Tim Elms, whose daughter Teresa McLean, 40, died in the building, said:

"We are looking for some accountability and justice for those who were killed and it is clear from the royal commission where the accountability lies."

- The Press

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