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Stamping out 36,000 precarious buildings

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Stamping  out 36,000 precarious buildings

Amid potential 36,000 buildings waiting to collapse in Lagos metropolis, built environment experts have suggested ways out of the menace of building collapse. Dayo Ayeyemi reports

 

 

While awaiting the reports of various committees set up by the federal and state government to unravel causes of building collapse in major cities across the country, especially in Lagos state, where the incident is prevalent, it is important not to gloss over the position of professionals under the auspices of Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG) that 36,000 buildings are waiting to collapse.
The body made it known to government and members of the public that these buildings were not handled by any built environment professional trained either as architects, builders or engineers.
According to the President of Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG), Akinola George, some of these buildings are located in Lagos Island, Oworoshonki/Bariga, Somolu, Ebute Meta, Mushin and Ajegunle among others.
Describing them as precarious, he explained to New Telegraph how he arrived at the figures, saying that a survey in 2012 had revealed that over 45,000 sites existed in Lagos, and that less than 20 per cent of the procurement scene and construction activities were done by professionals.
“Twenty per cent of this translates to 9,000. Hence, by deduction, quacks and other faceless characters by whatever names called are responsible for the remaining 80 per cent, “ George lamented.
He fingered developers as culpable, saying they were constructing weak buildings in Lagos, and in most cases, they do not possess the pre-requisite professionals qualifications in any construction and related fields.
Developers are largely businessmen and women who invest in ‘build, operate and transfer’ project delivery methods, he said, adding that the building collapse incident was alarming.
He noted that the construction industry was suffering quackery because of the desire to cut cost.
The BCPG boss reeled out causes of building collapse to include faulty design, copied design, lack of comprehensive subsoil investigation before designs are done. Non-adherence to designs and professional advice during construction, lack of effectiveness of government agencies charged with monitoring of building procurement and production process, quackery at both pre and post contract stages and use of substandard materials.
Others are poor workmanship, professional incompetence, lack of maintenance, greed by developers and contractors, ignorance, pilfering, omo-onile syndrome, unrealistic construction timeliness, unrealistic desires of clients, nocturnal, improper, illegal and unapproved change of use, poor drainage, fire incident, force majeure, lack of proper supervision and non-compliance to building code among others.
Although the state government has been reactive to March 14 building collapse incident in the metropolis by evacuating some identified defective structures in Lagos Island Central Business District, not much has been done to confirm the BCPG boss’s claims.
Government, according to its agency in charge of building control (LABCA), said it had identified more than 150 defective structures in the metropolis, got approval for the removal of 80 buildings, which their demolition have commenced.

Suggestions
To stamp out these defective structures, George advised government to set up a high-powered committee comprising government officials and private sector core professionals, which will employ the Lagos State Material Testing Laboratory (LSMTL) to check the integrity of buildings in the city.
Besides, he said government should commission a committee to research and come up with ways to strengthen some identified defective and dilapidated buildings in Lagos State.
He said: “Not all precarious buildings may be demolished. Building control officials and professionals should be encouraged and empowered to report any endangered building they notice.”
Corroborating BCPG boss, Chairman, Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS), Lagos chapter , Mr. Adesina Adeleke, canvassed for re-certification process for buildings in designated parts of the Lagos State.
Besides, he said all surveyors in the state should pull their weight behind government’s decision to remove all defective structures already marked and served the necessary statutory notices in the metropolis.
Adeleke suggested that built survey should form part of requirements for the re-certification process with a view of not just probing the structural integrity of buildings but to also determine if the information contained in the building approval adhered to the development.
According to him, surveyors discovered over a period of time that there was usually no geo-survey information of buildings and where such information was available, it negated the type of development earmarked for the land.
Adeleke said there was also need to develop and advocate construction policies designed to ensure voluntary compliance of the building code in a way that will mitigate potential building collapse by using modern strategies like the Building and Construction Regulatory System (BCRS).
He also made case for subsidence monitoring and deformation studies on buildings.
A former President, Nigerian Institute of Building, Mr Chucks Omeife, said collation of study and scrutiny of all state regulations as regards physical development had become imperative in order to see if they really addressed adequately issues of process management.
He said: “What we have at the moment in terms of building regulation is what is manifesting in the various building collapse across the country.l”
According to Omeife, a bad law cannot translate into good outcome.
On incessant building collapse, President of Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Mr. Roland Abonta, called the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) to enforce law on mandatory building insurance on all public buildings in the country.
Abonta said that enforcement of the law had become imperative to guard against huge loss of life and assets associated with building collapse.
The NIESV boss said: “The law requires that every public building must be covered by insurance. The insurance covers varied and insurance firms know that the law is based on nature of buildings.”
Abonta maintained that importance of insurance could not be overemphasised, calling on NAICOM to take the matter seriously in order to nib incidence of building collapse in the bud.
“We need insurance agency, NAICOM, to take the matter seriously by enforcing the law on public buildings such as schools and offices in the interest of Nigerians,” he said.
Building design experts under the auspices of Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Lagos Chapter, also called on government to commence full implementation of all enacted laws to curtail building collapse incidents in the country.
According to its Chairman, Fitzgerald Umah, the institute is calling on Lagos State Government to, without delay, genuinely commence full implementation of enacted laws and solutions proffered by the relevant professional bodies over so many years, which were all rendered ineffective due to weak implementation by relevant government agencies, flagrant abuse and deliberate flouting by the general public.
He warned that the tide of avoidable and unfortunate incidences of building collapse in Lagos State must be urgently stopped.

Last line
Both government and stakeholders must do the needful to stop building collapse menace in order to saveguard public lives and investments.

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