Signs of progress. High-rise buildings have sprouted all over Metro Cebu, but local fire officials are ill-equipped to handle catastrophes should any of the higher levels catch fire. (SunStar Foto/Allan Cuizon) REAL estate players in Cebu are willing to sit down with the concerned government agencies and the Cebu City Government to discuss how all parties can work together to ensure safety standards of high-rise buildings will be observed. Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña on Monday said he is eyeing a ban on the construction of high-rise buildings in the city if the inability to control large fires in skyscrapers won’t be addressed. High-rise buildings are those four stories and up. Osmeña’s statement came after the big fire that hit one of Ayala Center Cebu’s major anchor tenants, Metro Department Store and Supermarket, Friday night, which was declared out after 67 hours. “Subdivision and Housing Developers Association Inc. (SHDA) Central Visayas is always open and willing to participate in any dialogue and discussions on the matter,” said SHDA-CV president Atty. Dennis Quiokeles, in an interview yesterday. “We are prepared to sit down and discuss with local authorities and regulatory agencies because building safety is a shared and mutual concern and a priority for all stakeholders, developers and building owners, especially,” he added.

Quiokeles declined to comment if they are in favor of Osmeña’s proposed ban, saying they don’t know the specific parameters yet. What they are asking for, though, is a public consultation with industry stakeholders. “We also want to know the game plan of the authorities and LGUs when confronted with situations like this. It is about high time that we sit down and talk,” he said, adding that they aren’t against policies that promote public safety. Cebu Business Club president Gordon Alan Joseph said imposing a ban will not solve the issue. “What is needed is the sound practice of risk management by property owners, the updating of the fire and building codes which are at least 40 years old, if not much older,” said Joseph. He added it is also important to consider the new technology in building design and firefighting. “We also need better and more competent disaster response capabilities in all LGUs,” Joseph noted. Meanwhile, property developer Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI) welcomed the mayor’s initiative to look closely into the fire protection systems being integrated in Cebu’s buildings. “For CLI, our buildings are designed with the latest fire protection systems, which also follow global design standards…Our property management group also does regular preventive maintenance,” said Jose Franco Soberano, chief operating officer and senior vice president of CLI. He said their projects are equipped with modern FDAS systems, automatic fire suppression and sprinkler systems, and automatic pressurization. AboitizLand assured that they support the mayor’s plans. “The mayor’s idea is premised on the need to ensure safety for all. Safety in all aspects of residential, commercial and industrial development remains a commitment of AboitizLand,” said marketing manager Farrah Niña Mayol. “We remain confident that we fully comply with all fire and other relevant safety standards in the development of AboitizLand communities,” she added. The property sector’s outlook for Cebu remains robust in 2018. Colliers International, a global real estate services group, projects that Cebu’s real estate scene will continue to see growth across all fonts: residential, retail, office, as well as industri

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