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How to prevent building collapse, by experts

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How to prevent building collapse, by experts

Beyond panel of enquiry or tribunal, construction experts have suggested due processes that must be followed to eradicate incessant building collapse in Nigerian cities. Dayo Ayeyemi reports

 

 

There has been a rise in the number of building collapse in the country with over 200 cases recorded in the last 15 years.
From Lagos to Abuja, Jos, Kaduna, Benin, Imo, Abia, Anambra and Calabar, menace of building collapse dots the landscape with attendant loss of lives.
Between 2003 and 2018, more than 350 lives have been lost to the nuisance of building collapse, according to statistics.
In 2012, the Abimbola Ajayi-led Tribunal of Inquiry into building collapse in Lagos State stated that 135 cases were in the metropolis in seven years.
The tribunal also identified gross indiscipline and corruption by stakeholders as major causes of building collapse. These, it said, rendered the relevant state laws ineffective.
The collapse of The Synagogue Church of all Nation’s guest house in 2014 and collapse of five-storey structure belonging to Lekki Gardens in 2016 were eye openers. None of the identified perpetrators, who were taken to courts, have been sentenced since then.
Therefore, it is no longer news that two cases of building collapse were recorded in Abuja and Ugolo, Delta State within the space of 30 days, while a panel of enquiry had been raised by the authorities to unravel the root cause.
What would interest members of the public are proactive measures being taken by the government and all stakeholders to stamp out the menace in the society.
The latest incidents involved four-storey building under construction that caved in at Plot 711, Cadastral Zone B04, Jabi District, Abuja; and the collapse of St. Paul Catholic Church, Ugolo Adagbrasa in Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State, where scores of worshippers were trapped.
Speaking with New Telegraph, built environment experts stated that beyond setting up panel of enquiry, the government and regulators of professional bodies must ensure that standard building construction processes are adhered to, coupled with the enforcement of the National Building Code (NBC), while sanctioning erring officers.
Rather than trading blames, they are canvassing for collaboration among stakeholders to address the problem.

Experts’ views
According to the First Vice President, Nigerian Institution of Building (NIOB), Mr. Kunle Awobodu, two things that should be considered when constructing building must include soil investigation and the building’s load.
He blamed incessant building collapse on faulty construction methodology, use of incompetent contractors, poor workmanship, defective design/structure, structural defects, inadequate/lack of supervision/inspection/monitoring, heavy downpour, sub-standard materials.
Others, he said, included non-compliance with specifications/standards by developers/contractors, dilapidating structure and illegal conversion/alterations/additions to existing structures.
Awobodu maintained that lack of strict supervision and monitoring by relevant agencies and professionals was responsible for most collapses.
Specifically, he said building construction has a process, adding that except necessary professionals responsible for building design, structural stability, cost estimates and coordination of construction activities on site are involved, no amount of monitoring can give home owners the required standard in the construction process.
He said: “Any client that is putting up a structure and engages artisans is committing suicide. He or she will never get quality, because such artisans would either over use building materials or under use them.”
He berated the government for not having enough staff to monitor building construction site across the country.
Speaking at the sensitisation programme organised for construction artisans by the Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG), its President, Mr. Akin George, an architect, said that it had been predicted long time ago that more buildings would collapse, describing the menace as “an endemic practice” that has to be stopped.
Besides, he said that enforcement of the National Building Code had become imperative if the nation is serious about eradication of building collapse.
He said: “There are standards in the sector. Building code needs to be enforced. Most of the people that are constructing houses who are professionals are aware of the standards and they have to apply them.
“There is need for awareness for the building owners, construction workers and professional to nip building collapse in the bud. What we are doing now is awareness by engaging the stakeholders in the construction sector of the need for safety.”
According to him, total eradication of building collapse in the society will require continuous training of all stakeholders especially artisans.
Awobodu noted that the rate of building collapse had reduced, going by past experiences, but that the gospel still needs to be spread.
“The promotion of standard construction needs to continue,” he said.
He called for auditing and identification of weak buildings within the environment, adding that they should be rectified or pulled down to avert loss of lives and valuables.
General Manager, Lagos State Safety Commission, Hon. Hakeem Dickson, advised construction workers to be safety conscious, by imbibing modern technology and putting on their safety kits to guard them against accident.
According to him, law has made it mandatory that any buildings above two floors must be insured.
Assistant Secretary, BCPG, Abiodun Ogundare, said it was important to carry along artisans in building construction processes in the area of safety application on site.

Last line
All hands must be on deck through cooperation among stakeholders and deliberate policies of the government to wipe out building collapse with its attendant loss of lives.

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