Monday, January 30, 2006


Is an international firm of trade expo organizers to blame for the 62 dead, or have they been misunderstood and are taking their 'social responsibilities' seriously?.

The government seems clear as to what happened on Saturday when the roof of the five year old exhibition hall at the Katowice Expocentre complex (large grey structure of the left of the picture) collapsed on hundreds of pigeon fanciers. Transport Minister Jerzy Polacek said Monday that there was more than 45 centimetres of icy snow on the roof at the time, and at a press conference today, held up two large blocks of ice from the site as proof.

The implication is that the managers of the expocentre, Expomedia Group Poland, were criminally negligent in not clearing the snow from, what looks on the television to be, a rather flimsy metal sheeting roof. "The site, clues and relevant documents are being secured," said Katowice police spokesman Grzegorz Wierzbiecki, in case of any future prosecution.

Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz has announced that the government will be urgently revising the building law. "The changes…will be based on raising penalties, including the closure of buildings whose roofs are not cleared of ice or snow," he said.

But the managing director of Expomedia has denied negligence. Bruce Robinson claims that the roof was regularly cleared and that the causes of the tragedy ‘were not clear.’

One theory says that the foundations of the building in Katowice – a city where six other buildings have had roofs collapse on them recently - have been weakened by all the mining activity in the area.

Expomedia will probably point in their defense to the fact that they are members of the Foundation for Corperate Social Responsibility which recommends Expomedia on their web site, giving them the ‘Gold Seal of Approval as a Socially Responsible Company.’

The Expomedia group has a unique vision of the future of the exhibition, conference and events industry. It was established in 1999 to fill a void in the market. The vision was to create a chain of smart exhibition, conference and event centers in key growth markets worldwide, offering greater choice and flexibility to organizers of all types of events.

The Foundation also says that “Expomedia Group is composed of some really good people. What a delight it has been getting to know and appreciate the spirit and enthusiasm of Managing Director Bruce Robinson.”

How keen they are on Expomedia and Mr. Robinson’s ‘social responsibility’ at the moment is anyone's guess.

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