The consortium formed by the Portuguese building companies Mota Engil and Soares da Costa, who built the Olympic swimming pool complex in the outer Maputo neighbourhood of Zimpeto, has agreed to pay full compensation for the damage and loss of life caused by the collapse of an outer wall on 20 February.
The trainer of Mozambique’s national swimming team, Frederico dos Santos, died because the wall collapsed on top of his car as he was preparing to leave. Ten other people were injured in the collapse, including the wife and son of dos Santos, and members of the Mozambican swimming team.
The immediate reaction from the Portuguese consortium was that they had built the wall according to specifications in the contract. But journalists soon spotted signs of shoddy construction – the wall had been built without stabilizing pillars and beams.
Mota Engil and Soares da Costa have now changed their tune – they have not formally accepted responsibility for the collapse, but by offering full compensation, they are avoiding a likely court case.
Cited by the independent television station STV, the Minister of Youth and Sport, Alberto Nkutumula, said the two companies are offering dos Santos’s wife a pension and a job while his children will receive scholarships.
Mota Engil and Soares da Costa will also buy new cars for those people whose cars were damaged in the collapse. The companies will cover the hospital expenses of those who were injured (although the government provided immediate medical and psychological assistance to the swimmers hurt in the collapse). The consortium will also ensure that a new wall is built.
Nkutumula described this as an “amicable” agreement between the companies and the government. It was an extra-judicial arrangement, which avoided what might have become “a difficult and time-consuming legal procedure”.
Had the matter gone to the courts, it might have taken years to reach a solution, said the Minister. He added that the consortium had shown “good sense” in contacting the Ministry of Youth and Sport a fortnight after receiving the official report on the causes of the collapse, and expressing, in writing, its intention to pay full compensation.
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