Maduka Nweke, [email protected]
Built industry stakeholders have called for declaration of a state of emergency in the real estate sector to stem the spate of building collapse in major cities across the country.
According to them, the incidence of collapsed buildings has reached crisis dimension that members of the public are beginning to doubt government’s seriousness towards curtailing the menace.
They further argued that government will need to review the causes to find both the immediate and remote causes of such incidents which are becoming a recuring decimal..
Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG) which held a meeting in Lagos recently seemed not to have shown any serious interest in implementing measures put on ground by its former President, Kunle Awobodu, to prevent its regular occurrences. Commenting on the Guild’s preventive mechanism, he observed that a lot of things cause building collapse.
According to him, over population, old age, lack of maintenance culture among Nigerians and noncompliance to purpose for which they were built, have been identified as some of the causes of the frequent building collapses on the Lagos Island, Lagos State.
But the current administration seems not to have taken cognizance of the issues highlighted leading to the rising spate of collapes over the past four months. This was after showing signs of weakness, necessitating Lagos State government to carry out investigations into the state of two other buildings already marked distressed by the LASBCA to forestall loss of lives.
More so, out of 80 distressed buildings marked for demolition on Lagos Island, another two-storey building caved in at Kakawa Street on Monday but with no casualties. Preceding the first incident that occurred on 53 Massey Street, opposite Ita Faaji Market, with 20 fatalities including school children, LASBCA demolished a-three-storey building marked for demolition at Egerton Square, Oke Arin.
Meanwhile the coordinator of Ikotun/Igando cell of BCPG, Mrs Oluranti Okusaga, has called on government to be responsible and act fast to curtail menace of building collapse, noting that many people have developed the habit of engaging quacks during construction. “Before you build, consult professionals. Your safety is important and not cost, “she said, adding that more buildings are still going to collapse in the metropolis.
Also another professional, Olaniyan Olajide, from Badagry cell, said that buildings would not collapse on paper, noting that influx of urban slums has contributed to the menace. He urged government, professionals and people in the private sector to join hands in the crusade against structural failures. He also made case for law that would compel adoption of building manual as part of document required for facilities management of structures.
The Chairman, Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG), Lagos State chapter, Mr. Solomon Ogunseye, who failed to implement some of the rules that regards supervision, decried the spate of building collapse in Nigerian cities, especially Lagos, calling on government to ensure that professionals are involved in building projects.
According to him, time has come to allow professionals to monitor building construction sites to ensure that contractors adhere to building drawings/designs as approved. This, he said, would help to reduce collapse of buildings drastically. On building manual, he noted that most of the government’s projects have document that specifies how to repair or replace any facility in the building in case it breaks down or malfunctions. If all homeowners could adopt the document, Ogunseye said it would give room for proper maintenance of buildings and prevent collapse. The Vice Chairman, Colonel Jide Olayinka, stated that lack of implementation of policies by government was a major factor responsible for building collapse. He noted that professional bodies were handicapped without government’s backing. According to him, reports of recommendation abound on how to eradicate building collapse, but government has refused to act.
Building collapse has become a recurrent decimal in Nigeria. The incident no longer traumatises Nigerians because if it fails to happen this month, surely, it will happen after two months. The worse thing about the incident is that if it happens today, the agencies of government in charge of monitoring buildings to avoid defects will look elsewhere. Those who abhor spilling of blood will not like it but they will not be where they will be able to stop it. There are various statements from government showing dislike of the debacle but all their efforts could not be enforced. The resultant effect is the toll it takes in terms of live lost, property lost and the trauma it will create in the lives of the people. Building collapse can be traced to a lot of factors that if checked, would help to, at least , reduce the number of victims.
After a building collapsed in Lagos, killing no fewer than 11 people, including several schoolchildren on the building’s top floor, experts observed why such tragedies seem to occur so often in Nigeria and some African countries. While investigations are still underway into the cause of this collapse, engineers have noticed some common problems.
One of the reasons building collapse will not stop in Nigeria could be because the foundation is very weak and because the developer wants to cut cost he made the foundation weak. You know truly well that solid and adequate foundation can be very costly. The solid foundation can cost up to half the price of a building going by the observation of built environmental experts. This, could be due to lack of supervision on the part of government agencies. By this observation, two things should be considered when you are building; the foundations, the solidity of the soil and the heaviness of the building and its contents.
Lagos, because of the swampy ground, requires strong foundations, far stronger than solid ground. But most developers do not consider all these. Even on solid ground, foundations need to be strong enough for the load. However, most developers save money that should be spent on foundations when building on the city’s swampy ground and so many buildings have collapsed in the city as a result of that. Inadequate foundations for a four-storey building was one of three reasons given by investigators for a building that collapsed in northern Rwanda in 2013 which killed six people.
Another factor that can result in building collapse is the building materials in use. Many developers consider poor solutions or inadequate materials in the mixture thereby making the building materials not strong enough to carry the building. Some materials that are not strong enough to withhold the load are sometimes used in the casting the foundation.
Mr. Hermogene Nsengimana from the African Organization for Standardisation, whose organisation met in 2016 in Nairobi to discuss why so many African buildings collapse, suggests there is a market for counterfeit materials – going as far as to say that sometimes scrap metal is used instead of steel.