By Kehinde Aderemi
Recently, members of the Nigerian Institute of Builders (NIOB) as well as other professionals and stakeholders in the building industry gathered at Ikeja, Lagos to deliberate on the issue of collapsed buildings in the country.
The event was organized by the cement-manufacturing giants, Lafarge African Plc,
The occasion offered the various participants the opportunity to discuss pertinent issues that affect the sector as a whole. Top among the issues discussed at the gathering was about safety in the construction processes. All the speakers agreed unanimously that safety was key in construction, just as they highlighted the various safety measures paramount in the construction processes.
The stakeholders also complained about the array of quacks masquerading as professional builders. The stakeholders noted that government had failed in its responsibility to provide an effective framework and legislation with which professional builders could work. They explained also that over the years, government had failed to create an enabling environment that could give way to effective legislation.
Marketing Director of Lafarge African Plc, Mr. Vipul Aggrawal spoke about the immediate causes of building collapse in the country. He said the sector was full of unprofessional builders who use substandard materials in building. He lamented also that 95 percent of the materials used in making blocks in the country were substandard, adding that Nigerians only use five percent standard materials for blocks. He blamed the problem of building collapse on the failures of the professionals to unite and provide a unified voice that could transform the sector, adding that the people needed to be educated on the best way to handle all issues relating to building construction.
“The sector has turned out to be an all-comers’ affair. People just turned to builders overnight, and nobody is asking questions. The implication of this is that we have more quacks in the sector and that actually accounted for the various building collapses we have been experiencing in recent times. As far as I am concerned, I think it is in our own interest to come together as one, united group and work harmoniously for the implementation of the laws with sincerity of purpose,” he said.
He noted further that the laws guiding all the players in the building sector, if well implemented, could solve the various problems the sector was facing.
Aggrawal noted also that the management of Lafarge Africa Plc would ensure that an avenue for similar gatherings was provided in the nearest future to make up for lost grounds.
Chairman, Lagos State Institute of Builders, Mrs Adenike Saheed highlighted all the conflicting areas in the practices of professional buiders. She said building should be an exclusive preserve of structural engineers and not civil engineers. She informed also that there were specified regulations for builders in the state, regretting that the regulations were not well implemented. She urged the government to put in place a practicable law that could aid professional builders in doing their jobs.
Mrs. Saheed applauded the transformational agenda of Lafarge Africa Plc, noting that the company was a key participant in the sector. She urged the government to support further initiatives put in place by all professional associations in the sector, adding that the right person should be appointed to handle jobs relating to the sector.