Experts in housing and infrastructure sector say regular inspection of both old and new buildings, evaluation of buildings to ensure strict compliance with initially approved plans as well as penalties on offenders will help to curb incessant building collapse across the country.
Speaking at a breakfast meeting organised by the Nigeria-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) in Lagos on Thursday, Adekunle Mokolu, president, Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), said there was a need for regular auditing of properties for documentary and record keeping, including enforcement of building regulations.
He said building professionals must collaborate now more than ever to combat the menace of recurrent building collapse in the country.
Mokolu, who was represented by Olasoji Olagunju, CEO, Hurlag Technologies, while proposing possible solutions, said stiffer penalties should be placed on owners of collapsed buildings and the project handlers in the country, especially where lives are lost. He said this would serve as a deterrent to carefree developers in the country.
He added that there should be regular enlightenment campaigns by stakeholders.
He explained that buildings collapse due to various reasons such as bad design, faulty construction, foundation failures, and unnecessary additions that can be traced to the ineffectiveness of regulators, stressing that quality of work by regulatory agencies are key contributory factors.
Ehi Braimah, vice president of NACC high, building collapses incidence in Nigeria was a matter of national concern affecting all stakeholders in the construction industry including professional bodies and associations, building consultants, government, developers, land owners and building users.
At the breakfast meeting themed, ‘Building Collapse in Nigeria and the Need for Re-certification’, Braimah stated that “the incidence of building collapse has become a recurring decimal in several parts of Nigeria which has raised much concern and anxiety about the safety of lives and properties.”
“For every collapsed building, the footprints of destruction of lives and loss of properties in locations where they occur mostly in the urban cities of Port Harcourt, Abuja and Lagos in Nigeria are usually undesirable,” he added.
Adetola Emmanuel-King, CEO, Adron Homes, stated that there was need to prioritise buildings and properties as they reflect the condition of the country, its economy and citizens. He challenged the government for turning the certificate of occupancy (C of O) into a revenue generation scheme, making it cumbersome for house owners while causing delays in approvals of building plans.
“Just like human beings, buildings have a life cycle of 60 years after which they are to be renovated or demolished to avoid accidents, but proper maintenance of the buildings periodically can improve its life span,” Emmanuel-King said.
Proposing solutions to curb the menace, Fitzgerald Umah, chairman of the Nigeria Institute of Architects, Lagos State chapter, said it was important for professionals in the building industry to work together as a team to ensure a drastic reduction in building collapse.
Speaking on delays in approval of building plans, Olabodunrin Oki, acting GM, Lagos State Building Control Agency, said it was necessary to follow due procedures in order to avoid accidents in future.
He said that despite the large number of building plans awaiting approval, each building plan goes through professionals in the industry to ensure perfection, with each of them applying different procedures which could take a long time in respect of certifying the plan.