Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Faulty foundation - Cracking walls, sinking floors bother customers of NCB Portmore and neighbouring business

Published:Sunday | August 28, 2016 | 8:00 AMCorey Robinson
A NCB customer entering the bank's Portmore branch through the side door rather than its main enterance.
The main entrance to the Portmore Town Centre branch of NCB.
The cracks in the floor have made this drive-through at the Portmore Town Centre NCB branch inoperable.
The clearly visible cracks in the floor have forced NCB to abandon this area of it Portmore branch.
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The National Commer-cial Bank (NCB) has moved to allay fears that staff and customers at its Portmore Town Centre branch in St Catherine could be in danger from cracking walls and sinking floors at the facility.

In recent weeks, tiles have been seen out of place in sections of the bank where the floor is slanted. But the real damage is evident outside, where the building is greatly marred by cracks.

Sections of the drive-through at the rear of the premises are unusable as portions of the pavement are either cracked or raised and several columns, including those at the building's main entrance, are cracked.

But in a response to Sunday Gleaner queries last week, the bank's management said there was no cause for alarm.

"We have done the assessment and there is no ... risk to any of the staff or customers. If that was the case, we would definitely have to shut it down right away," said Bellinda Williams, commu-nication and social responsibility manager at NCB.

"We are looking at plans - nothing is finalised as yet. After we have done the assessment, then we will know and [determine] when and how best to act," added Williams.

The issue was brought to the newspaper's attention by customers who reported that several tiles had sunken inside the bank, and that sections of the building, which was constructed in 2006, were cracking open.

Customers who used the drive-through complained of cracks on the pavement at the rear of the building, while pedestrians questioned if the cracks on the walkway at the entrance of the building were the reason its main door was permanently closed.

Last week, Williams told the newspaper that the issue "is caused from the foundation selection for a section of the building during the design phase of the project".

According to Williams: "We have noticed settlement of the floor and some lifting tiles. We have subsequently received confirmation from our civil engineering consultant that settlement has ceased and there are no future effects anticipated."

SIMILAR SITUATION

Last week, Paulette Miller-Folkes, brand manager at the Maxie Department Store on West Trade Way, said she, too, had been experiencing similar problems at her facility.

Both staff and customers have been tripping over tiles which have either sunken or rose in sections of the store due to the land movement.

"Whenever I come over this side, it's as if I am dizzy, and that is because the ground is uneven," said Miller-Folkes, as she walked in the male display section of the store two Wednesdays ago.

"Staff and customers have the same problems. People have been tripping on the tiles because the gaps are very deep," she said while sticking her index nail in one of the crevices.

"You have to be very careful when you are walking at certain places because of how low the floor is."

Miller-Folkes said the store bought the property in 2003, but only realised the problems in 2010.

She said she is currently seeking the assistance of a contractor to rectify the problem, but could not say how much money it would cost or how long it would take.

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com