Lack of the political will to punish those whose property have collapsed in spite of prior warnings has been identified as the bane of building collapse in the country.
The President of Nigeria Institute of Builders (NIOB), Mr. Kunle Awobodu, who disclosed this to property editors of various media houses in Lagos, said that the fact that those who allowed their buildings to dilapidate and eventually collapse have not been given the commensurate punishment, many people are taking the matter with kid glove.
Awobodu said that two major collapsed buildings- Lekki Gardens and Synagogue- attracted government’s attention and as the Lekki Gardens was prosecuted, the Synagogue matter is still lingering. He noted that it is not enough for government to assign the job of monitoring to some people, that should also include monitoring the monitors. “Government should also monitor those given the responsibility to monitor constructions at sites. Those sent to monitor must be professionals in the fields they monitor, otherwise, they will be intimidated. Government should employ those who are competent in the job of monitoring, being experts in the areas they are monitoring, he said.
He said that Nigeria has suffered so much as a result of building collapse. According to him, during the year 2019, 43 buildings collapsed in Nigeria with 17 happening in Lagos alone. “Out of the collapsed buildings, 51 per cent were existing buildings while 49 per cent were buildings under construction. Of the collapsed buildings, four happened in Anambra State and they are under construction. There were three in Plateau State and three in Delta with 59 lives lost, while 74 persons were injured. This is anyway higher than what it used to be in previous years. This is an indictment on the building control agency because it seems the control mechanism or policy has some shortcomings,” he said.
He went further to say that he was optimistic that the current governor of Lagos, who was the vice-chairman of the technical committee set up then by the then governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, to tackle the scourge of building collapse, will do much in making building collapse a thing of the past, having gathered enough experience about it.
The issue of building collapse, he said, reaches its climax during the rainy seasons. He warned that since the rains have not come, yet,two buildings collapsed last Friday. Authorities should watch it as the year is still young.
He stated that NIOB has decided to use May 13 to sensitise the people on the importance of standard construction.
“We also intend to reach out to government on the issue of building collapse in Nigeria. The sensitisation will, include all builders, all artisans, all that have to do with building construction. What we have at hand now is a challenge from what we used to have in the past. In Abuja and Lagos, if your building collapses, the land will be confiscated. For building to collapse, it shows that something is wrong with the professionals at site.
This is as professional builders do not take chances with artisans because those who are doing the work physically can get to a level they will become tired or begin to do things their own way to the detriment of the building,”he said.