With the recurring incidences of building collapse in the country, the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), has called for stiffer penalties to be placed on owners of collapsed buildings and the project handlers.This according to the president of NSE, Adekunle Mokolu, said would serve as a deterrent to the practices of care-free developers in the country.
Mokolu, who was represented by the Managing Director, Hurlag, Olasoji Olagunju, stated this at the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC’s) August breakfast meeting in Lagos, saying that to address building collapse, it was high time government across various levels enforced building regulations to check against the menace.
He urged government to ensure owner/developer whose property was not covered by a valid building approval plan should regularise the property, and this will be after ascertaining the structural stability of the building.
He said a qualitative structural assessment will reveal inherent dangers and havoc that is associated with existing defective buildings.“Re-certification/validation of the buildings is necessary to ensure they conform to the purposes for which they are being used and building plan suitable for the locality where the building is situated. This no doubt could be a proactive or preventative step in curbing the incessant building collapse,” he added.
He noted that another common and worrisome risk are structures that have existed for ages, stressing that most of these structures within the area where collapse has occurred in Lagos State as an example were built without the requisite approval plan or due regularisation with the government, and as a result, do not conform to the building specifications and standard of the location.
“There is a need for state governments to implement integrity audit of all these old and aged structures within the location where a previous collapse has been recorded,” he averred.
The acting General Manager, Lagos State Government Building Control Agency (LABSCA), Olabodurin Oki, said most of the drawings for construction in Lagos, are drawn by quacks, calling on the State Government to increase the number of enforcement teams in a bid to cover the state more effectively.He noted that developers are making regulations difficult in the State, adding that after getting approvals for a particular building, they set up structures they did not get approval for.
“They have two types of approval. One for approval and the other for construction, and most times they change the use of the building at their will without any form of appraisal or consultation,” he said.
The Group Managing Director, Adron Homes and Properties Limited, Dr Adetola Emmanuelking, said the government has yet to come to terms that housing is critical to the national economy.He added that most of the structures in the country were built without building plan approval; hence, the need for re-certification of building plan approval is vital.
Meanwhile, the Vice President, NACC, Ehi Braimah, said the rate of building collapse in the country has become so disturbing that various accusations and counter-accusations are now the order of the day.He said in most cases, the government as a key stakeholder, accuses professionals in the building industry of engaging in sharp practices.
In his words, “And on the other hand, critics have constantly accused the government and its officials of corruption and negligence, because most of the funds for monitoring and evaluation are either misappropriated or diverted to personal pockets leading to structural failures.”
He added that the incidence of building collapse has become a recurring decimal in many parts of the country, which has raised much concern and anxiety about the safety of lives and property.He pointed out that the predominant rate of building collapse in Nigeria poses a grave concern and challenges to all the stakeholders in the building construction industry including professional bodies and associations, building consultants, governments, developers, landowners and building users.