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EDITORIAL - High-rise living

Despite criticisms, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña is standing firm in his decision to freeze the issuance of business permits for proposed high-rise buildings in the city following a fire that gutted a department store in a mall.

Unless enough safety measures are in place, Osmeña said there will be no construction of buildings above four stories. He plans to meet with real estate developers in the city to discuss security measures in their structures.

Of course, being the city mayor, the move was well within the power of Osmeña. Being the boss, he can even stop any ongoing high-rise construction for just a minor lapse committed by the developer.

We don't know yet how long the freeze will run. But one thing for sure, it will only cause a delay in the construction schedule of proposed buildings and will put additional costs and deadline extensions on the part of the developer.

Osmeña's move is understandable. For some, it is even commendable as they are glad he is finally putting a premium on the safety of high-rise building occupants because he does not want to lose lives caused by human lapses during a fire or any other incident.

However, the freeze would not actually have been necessary if the city government had been religious in doing its part. Did the Office of the Building Official regularly check all establishments in the city for compliance with safety rules? Did it frequently impose sanction on building owners who violate fire and other safety regulations?

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Fire will always occur for as long as it has the opportunity to strike. But we can always prevent it if we prioritize putting in place safety measures. But such practice can only be followed if authorities are vigilant.

Given the limited space, the city's construction sector has no other way than to go vertical. We have no other option than to start embracing high-rise living like those in other highly-urbanized areas, a reality that Cebuanos should learn to accept.

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