Homes in Israel's periphery dangerously under-prepared for earthquakes

Thousands of families in places like Arad, Tiberias and communities close to the Jordan River are unprotected in the event of a natural disaster.

August 8, 2017 18:55
2 minute read.
A building being demolished by Tama 38 in Ramat Gan

A building being demolished by Tama 38 in Ramat Gan.. (photo credit: OFIR AUSLANDER)

Only 13 residential buildings in the periphery have been reinforced and brought up to code in the event of an earthquake, as opposed to the 4,385 in major cities like Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem since the National Building Plan 38, or “TAMA 38,” was established in 2005. The data came from TamaFix, a free service that provides information to people considering undertaking TAMA 38.

The goal of TAMA 38 is to reinforce buildings built after 1980, particularly those built along the Great Rift Valley, a location highly vulnerable to earthquakes and therefore unattractive for builders and dangerous for renters. However, in a statement released by TamaFix, most of the work done for this project has been in major cities, thus leaving thousands of families in places like Arad, Tiberias and communities close to the Jordan River unprotected in the event of a natural disaster.

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In addition to reinforcing these buildings, TAMA 38 is also known for selling building rights to outside buyers and then adding on two levels to existing buildings as well as creating additional rooms in these apartments.

Hence it generates an advantageous scenario for building owners as well as renters particularly in major cities where the demand and therefore prices for housing are significantly higher.

However, despite the economic potential of this project, a large portion of the population is being neglected, as nearly all of the efforts TAMA 38 has put forth have been in major cities, only averaging about one building per year in these locations in the periphery.

According TamaFix CEO Lior Gozes “the amount required to prevent the collapse of an apartment in the periphery is NIS 84,000.” He added that “this number is based on calculating the cost of constructing a housing unit that holds 12 families at a rate of NIS 1 million which includes construction costs, taxes, architect and engineer costs, and more.”

The Construction Ministry said in an official statement regarding this issue that “the principle that must be met in order for a TAMA 38 project to succeed is that the value of the additional building rights will cover the cost of reinforcing the building with a reasonable profit for the contractor. The Construction Ministry has once again applied for a budget grant to offer to builders who will implement TAMA 38 in the periphery and we are waiting for an answer.”

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