Excerpt – Building In Africa

Mi Panel passed the toughest international tests – withstanding a 7,9 Richter scale seismic event. Hillary Erasmus finds out that they are about to be manufactured locally.

A systems-approval test reveals far more about a building product than a product-approval test yet brick and mortar is exempt from systems approval testing. The manufacturers of Mi Panel are intent on providing a building system that meets the highest international standard of any given system test parameter. In some cases, Mi Panel has surpassed even the most stringent testing parameters. The lightweight interlocking panels comprise two facings of 4,5 mm-thick fibre-cement sheeting with a low-density concrete core mix in the centre.

Withstanding forceful acts of nature would be an effective seal against the top ratings from lab tests: Mi Panel structures withstood an earthquake that measured 7,9 on the Richter scale and killed 22 000 people in India in 2003. “Amid the rubble, only Mi Panel structures were left standing fully intact,” says Pragasan Chetty, CEO of MiBT. “As a result of a report commissioned by the Indian government to investigate the reason for the strength of the Mi Panel, major government contracts were awarded for reestablishing infrastructure using Mi Panels.” The report found that the flexibility of the Mi Panel joints, combined with a tongue and groove system, allows lateral movements to take place. This enables the structure to withstand seismic events and cyclones. “The contracts were for putting up medical centres, over 200 schools, police stations, railway stations, electricity sub-stations, and telecommunications.”

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