Building Collapse: Nigerians At the Mercy of Greedy Developers

The manner buildings under construction are collapsing across the country, coupled with the number of deaths and injured persons being recorded, has become a source of serious concern to many Nigerians.

In this report OKECHUKWU OBETA writes that experts and stakeholders have identified use of substandard materials and greed on part of builders as a key factor in the rising rate of the unfortunate incident, as well as measures being initiated by various stakeholders to arrest further occurrences.

Across the country, the manner buildings under construction are collapsing is currently dominating discussions among many of the residents. From the discussions, it is clear that many people are now afraid of packing into newly  constructed buildings.

The popular belief is that they are being constructed with sub-standard materials and therefore they may come crumbling any moment.

Apparently what gave rise to the current level of fear are the two buildings that collapsed mid-last month in Onitsha, the Anambra State commercial nerve centre.

The first incident involved a three-storey building under construction at No.7  Ezenwa by Ogalaonye Street which suddenly crumbled on Wednesday, May 17, 2019. About eight workers were on the site and it claimed the lives of  about five of them, with the other three sustaining severe injuries.

The second incident occurred at No. 44 Modebe Avenue, Odoakpu area of the commercial town just two days later. Though no life was lost in this latest incident, about five persons (all females) working at the construction site were however said to have sustained various degrees of injuries when a decked attachment to the building collapsed.

Unfortunately, even before the latest development, the building collapse has become a common sad experience in the state.

In 2016, for instance, two buildings were reported to have crumbled in Oko, the home town of the late Second Republic Vice-president, Dr. Alex Ekwueme. According to the Anambra state Vice-chairman of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Prof. Peter Katchy one of the incidents which happened at Okoani village area of the community involved a building which was meant to be a hostel for students of the Federal Polytechnic, Oko.

Three labourers working at the building site were said to have died in the incident. Again in 2014, about eleven buildings under construction were recorded to have collapsed in different parts of the state.

Interestingly, the circumstances responsible for the unfortunate incident are certainly known as far as the major stakeholders in the housing delivery sector in the state are concerned.

In fact the reasons are essentially as a result of the use of sub-standard materials, engagement of quacks to handle building constructions, as well as non-compliance to Government’s regulatory guidelines on building constructions.

As a result of greed and desire to have their buildings delivered to them at the cheapest cost not minding the obvious risk such poorly constructed buildings pose to the prospective inhabitants, some indenting housing developers engage quacks to handle their building constructions for them.

Following the out-cry by stakeholders against the use of sub-standard building materials and the attendant sudden collapse of many of the affected buildings in 2014, the state government had set up a Raw Material Testing Laboratory and made it compulsory that anyone under-taking building construction must take the materials to be used in such building construction for testing and certification at the laboratory before using them and spelt out penalties against anyone who failed to comply.

To ensure compliance, the government had even then threatened that it would confiscate any building that collapsed in the state,  the site inclusive.

The Commissioner of Police in the state then, Mr. Sam Okaula, also alluded to the fact that the use of sub-standard materials was responsible for the collapse of the buildings. He stated the state police command had launched a manhunt for the owner of the building.

He said, “We learnt that the owner of the building lives abroad. We are making efforts to get him and the site engineer.

“Two persons have been confirmed dead and we learnt that the collapse was caused by use of substandard materials”, the state police boss said concerning the collapsed building at Oko in 2014.

So, when the state government inaugurated a Panel of Inquiry  to investigate the circumstances responsible for the latest building collapse in Onitsha, the state chapter of the  Nigerian Institute of Architects(NIA) had in a swift reaction dismissed the action as unnecessary, insisting that the unfortunate incident would have been prevented had the state government implemented the white paper produced from the report of the earlier panel it set up that  investigated the similar incidents which occurred in  2014.

The professional group rather insisted that the state government already knows the causes of the incessant collapse of building in the state. In fact, the group blamed the State government for the numerous cases of building collapse in the state, saying that more may even occur if the state government continues to refuse to implement recommendations made by the group in a white paper.

The 2014 investigative Panel from whose report the white paper was produced was headed by Architect Peter Okpala with eight other seasoned building professionals as members.

The NIA state boss, Arc Osita Okafor who addressed newsmen shortly after an emergency meeting of the institute expressed displeasure with the government refusal to implement the white paper produced by following the report of the Panel of Enquiry it set up in 2014 on collapsed building.

Okafor said, “We are taken aback by the news of the inauguration of the panel without implementation of the recommendations of a former panel set up by the same government on 9th June 2014.

“The building industry is regulated, and we know that there are defined roles for various professions. It is therefore unconventional and unacceptable that non-architects now assume the role of architects.

“We therefore use this opportunity to draw government’s attention to the implementation of an already published white paper report on building collapse in October 13, 2014. That white paper stressed the need to establish a one-stop approval process. By these processes, all relevant professionals in the building industry will vet drawings, /documents submitted for approval.

“Finally, the NIA frowns at a panel to investigate and deal with a serious matter as grievous as building collapse, and the architects, who are the prime consultants in the building projects all over the world are excluded from the panel.”

The group said that with such constitution of a panel, and non implementation of the previous panel’s report, the issue of collapsed buildings may not abate soon in the state.

It charged the governor to take a dispassionate look at the posers raised by the group with a view to correcting them to ensure that building collapse was checked once and for all to discourage building collapse in the state and engender the spirit of quality and solid buildings.

Also, following the Onitsha building collapse, the State chapter of the  Physical Planning Board headed by, Barrister Chike Maduekwe as the Executive Chairman,  convened a meeting of stakeholders and professionals in the building Industry in the State.

To mitigate the menace, the experts are urged the  State government to implement the Government White paper report of the Panel of Inquiry it set up to investigate eleven collapsed buildings in the State in 2014.

The meeting was held at the State Physical Planning Board office in Awka.

Other professional groups present included Nigeria Institute of Architects, Nigeria Society of Engineers, Nigeria Institute of builders, among others.

The 2014 investigative Panel was headed by Architect Peter Okpala and eight other seasoned building professionals.

According to them, everything that will help government curb or reduce cases of building collapse in the State are contained in the 2014 report, adding that a government white paper has even been produced but is yet to be implemented.

For the Chairman Nigeria Society of Engineers, Awka Branch who is also the Chief Fire Officer in the State, Engineer Martin Agbili, over the years, the issue of what he described as internal quackery has been there, added that their Organization have been trying it’s best to check the malady, urging people to stop patronizing quacks in the name of saving costing, adding that it has the portential of a detrimental outcome.

The President, Nigeria Institute of Building, Mr. Okafor said that building project delivery is team work, ranging from the roles of the town planner, quantity surveyor, land surveyor, to the role of engineers.

Stating  that they have undergone trainings to deliver on the expectations of the society and to indemnify the public from all forms of dimensions of safety hazards, he added that building collapses usually occur because the roles of professionals are usually neglected, just as the former Chairman of Nigeria Society of Engineers, C.Y Anaeto said that he was a member of the said investigative panel which helped reduce incidents of building collapse, and called on government to as a matter of urgency, enforce the content of the white paper.

While saying that the Governor is upset about the ugly trend and instructed that they take necessary actions, the Executive Chairman of Anambra State Physical Planning Board, Barrister Chike Maduekwe, emphasized that the board has a clear cut role of land use and making sure that developments are placed at the right locations.

He however stressed that all the experience required by the State to eliminate building collapse are at their disposal, saying that the meeting is pursuant to their earlier meeting where they set up a panel to ensure that all approvals, supervision and post approvals are done by competent professionals, to provide safe building environment for ndi Anambra.

Meanwhile, the 10-man panel comstituted by Governor  state governor, Chief Wilillie Obiano, headed by the traditional ruler of Uke Community, Igwe Charles Agballa and mandated to investigate circumstances surrounding the collapse of the three-storey building and come up with appropriate recommendations on professional practices to be adopted so as to curb the menace has as its secretary, Mr. Nwabufo Nwankwo as secretary it was given one month within which to turn in its report.

Other members were: ACP John Obuagbaka, Representating the Commissioner of Police in the state,Mr. Mustapha Dandaura;  Mr Emeka Ezenwunne, Commissioner for Utilities and CSP Chinedu Anigbaoso (CSO to the Governor), Mr CY Agupugo (Executive Director, SEMA), Mr Alexander Chukwunwike (Rep. NSE), Mr. Afam Afugbuom (Rep. Nigeria Institute of Builders), Mr. Alloy Uzor (Rep Nigeria Institute of Town Planners) and Mr.  Ebosie Ezeoke (Rep. Material Testing Laboratory).

During the inauguration, governor Obiano had described the task given the panel as very important and spelt out its terms of reference to include, “look at cases of structures constructed on drainages and those without approvals”. The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu inaugurated the panel at the Government\House, Awka on behalf of the Governor.

It is indeed strongly believed that unless the relevant agencies of the state government rise up to their responsibilities of enforcing the necessary regulatory guidelines for ensuring quality house delivery, the incident of building collapse would continue to occur in the state.

Source: leadershipng

Warri Collapsed Building: Owner was Using Substandard Materials- Neighbours

The building which was few metres away from the Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Warri Correspondents Chapel, crumbled around 1:10 p.m., according to an eyewitness.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that no life was lost in the incident.

Mr Olusegun Awodiyi, Chairman, Marine Quarters, who spoke on behalf of the residents, said they had warned the owner of the building that the foundation was not strong enough to carry a two-storey building.

According to Awoniyi who claimed that the building materials used were substandard, the owner of the building whose name was not given, rebuffed them and said he was a certified engineer.

He said,“The workers have not been around for some days, so we thank God that no life was lost.

“The Delta Government should come and take a critical look at another house belonging to the same owner of the collapsed building to avoid another one collapsing and possibly leading to death.”

Mr Samuel Owoputi, who owns a building besides the collapsed structure, said two of his children who were sleeping in his room narrowly escaped death as the incident also affected the room.

According to him, the collapsed building had been giving signs since Wednesday.

Mrs Divine Iniovosa, the Vice Chairman of the Local Government Area who visited the scene, said the owner of the building would be invited to the council secretariat for questioning.

Iniovosa claimed that from all indications, the materials used for the building were substandard, adding that it was built without the service of a qualified engineer.

“We thank God that no life was lost. From what I am seeing, it shows that the materials used were poor and the owner did not engage a qualified engineer to do the job.

“As a council, we are going to invite the owner to come and tell us what happened; but for now, I will report to the council chairman what I have seen.

“My people from the Town Planning Departments have drawn our attention to this building and they told the man to stop the building. I am not surprised that this has happened.

“The owner of this house probably did not want to live in it, otherwise, he would not use these poor materials to build this house,” she said.

Iniovosa advised prospective builders to engage the services of qualified engineers and also use standard materials for their buildings.

“People should engage the services of engineers before starting their building. They should also use quality building materials so that their house will stand the test of time,” she said.


Three Children, Two Others Rescued from Collapsed Building in Kano

Kano State Fire Service on Friday rescued three children and two adults trapped in a building, which collapsed at Dandago Babban Baki in Gwale Local Government Area of the state.

Alhaji Saidu Mohammed, spokesman of the service, who said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria in Kano said that the house was one storey building.

Mohammed disclosed that a three-year-old boy was among those rescued.

“We received a distress call on Friday from one Malam Hamza Idris at about 3:19 p.m. that a building has collapsed.

“Upon receiving the information, we quickly dispatched firemen to the scene at about 3:27 p.m.,’’ he said.

Mohammed gave the names of the victims as Abduljabbar Murtala, 7, Walid Inusa, 10, Hanif Murtala, 3, Akailu Alkassim, 22 and Nasir Ibrahim, 35.

He said that the victims who sustained injuries were taken to the Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital, Kano, for treatment.


JUS IN: Two Storey Building Collapses in Warri

An uncompleted two storey building, still under construction, in the Marine Quarters axis of Warri, collapsed to the ground on Friday, leaving a huge heap of rubbles.

Although there was no casualty, as there was nobody within the walls of the building as at the time of the incident, at about 1:00pm, the collapsing structure left impacts on two nearby living quarters.

According to sources who were seen at the scene of the incident, labourers working on the building had suspended works in the meantime as a result of the rains, which had been more constant in the last few days.

While those living around the area were seen thanking God that no life was lost, a welder working on the site was also captured evacuating his welding machine and other equipment.

Although it was gathered that the owner of the collapsed building was out of town, a neighbour in the area informed that he (the owner of the building) had refused to engage other professional hands for the construction, saying “he’s both the engineer and the labourer”

In a chat with Nation, the Chairman of Marine Quarters, Mr. Olusegun Awodeyi, stated that residents in the area had warned the owner of the building that the foundation and other parts of the building are not firm enough due to “substandard materials” used for the construction.

Awodeyi said rather than make use of good and standard materials, the owner of the building once said “we should go away that he knows what he is doing as an engineer”.

He, however, charged the Delta state government to come and take a critical look at another house reportedly belonging to the said owner of the collapsed building to avoid another “building collapse” and possible deaths.

“We don’t want a situation where someone will have to die in this area, government needs to come quickly to take a look at another building belonging to the same man. It was just God who prevented death from this one that has already collapsed”, Awodeyi said.

Source: thenationonlineng

3 escape death as another building collapses in Lagos

A one storey building has collapsed at Shangisha area of Magodo, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.

PM News gathered that the building was under construction when it caved in on Thursday with three people trapped in the debris.

The building collapsed at Kayode Aluko Olokun Close, Shangisha, Magodo.

The building was said to have collapsed around 3.00pm as the workers were working on the structure.

Officials of the Rapid Response Squad, RRS, and others were on ground to rescue trapped victims.

A police source told PM News that the three people trapped in the collapsed building had been rescued and taken to the hospital.

In March, a three-storey building collapsed at Itafaji area of Lagos Island, with 20 people, majorly pupils killed with over 40 others injured.

Source: pmnewsnigeria

NIA Blames Govt for Collapsed Buildings in Anambra

The Nigerian Institute of Architects, Anambra State chapter, has blamed the state government for the recent buildings collapses in the state.

It accused the government of lacking the willpower to implement the recommendations of professionals and stakeholders in building construction.

Addressing newsmen in Awka on Wednesday, the NIA Chairman in the state, Osita Okafor, asked Governor Willie Obiano to implement the 2014 report/ recommendation on how to avert building collapse in the state.

He described recommendation as detailed and comprehensive.

While faulting a recent inauguration of a panel of inquiry by the state government over a building collapse in Onitsha that claimed two lives, including the structural engineer, NAI, said no architect was included in the panel.

The NIA said government attitude of rushing to set up panels on such issues without implementing the recommendations of such committees amounted to efforts in futility.

Describing such attitude as the bane of building constructions in the state, Okafor asked the state governor to implement the white paper report published in 2014.

He said, “We wish to state that we are taken aback by the inauguration of the panel without the implementation of recommendation of the former panel set up by the same government on June 9, 2014.

“We, therefore, draw the government’s attention to the implementation of the already published white paper report on building collapse published on October 13, 2014.

“As a state that prides itself as the light of the nation, Anambra should be able to show an example of the best international practices.”

He decried state government’s decision of excluding architects on issues of building construction, describing it as “unconventional and unacceptable”.

“These anomalies don’t happen anywhere in the world. What results do they expect after excluding architects, the prime consultants in building projects from the panel dealing with the serious matter as grievous as building collapse?” , Okafor stated.

Source: Punchng

Tokyo proves that housing shortages are a political choice

In the debate about how to solve the housing shortage in UK cities, foreign examples, especially in the rest of Europe and English-speaking countries like the US and Australia, often pop up to show what we can do better. But recently, some of the most exciting ideas in housing policy and planning reform have started to come out of Japan.

The Centre for Cities recently visited Tokyo, Sendai, and Onagawa Town through the Japan Local Government Centre on the Japan Study Tour to find out more about how cities function in one of the most urbanised countries on the planet – and what we can learn from them here in the UK. Here’s what we found.

Japanese homes are cheaper because they build more

Compared to skyrocketing housing costs in many Western cities, Japan has seen remarkable success in supplying affordable housing – even in cities with lots of economic growth. While average mean rents in London are upwards of £2,000, average rents in Tokyo are about £1,300 – even after Brexit-related depreciation of pound sterling.

This isn’t caused by social housing or danchi – less than 5 per cent of homes across Japan are socially rented, compared to about 17 per cent in England. And it’s not because Japan’s population is shrinking either – Tokyo’s population is still growing due to migrants from other parts of Japan and abroad.

Instead, it’s because the supply of housing in Japanese cities is responsive to local demand. While the UK saw about 194,000 houses start construction last year, Japan saw 942,000 housing starts last year.

Even though Japan demolishes and rebuilds lots of houses, the net increase in homes is still much larger than the UK – about 600,000 homes (Table 5) are added to Japan’s dwelling stock every year. Tokyo has added roughly 110,000 homes a year since 2003, compared to 20-40,000 a year in London over the same period.

These homes are often smaller than what we’re used to – the average property in Tokyo is 55 square metres, compared to 80 square metres in London. But this isn’t the full story. New supply in Tokyo responds to demand by building lots of smaller one-bed flats for singles, and young people can live independently without needing to share with housemates. This means that, even though average homes are smaller, the average Tokyoite probably has more housing floor-space per person today than the average Londoner because living with housemates is so uncommon.


Japan’s flexible zoning system is a different kind of planning

The planning framework that underpins this supply is a simple zoning system that allows by-right development, rather than one that relies on granting planning permission for each individual site. There are only 12 zones, defined according to the maximum nuisance level they allow, ranging from sleepy residential to polluting industrial uses. The key is that pretty much anything can be built, provided it does not exceed the zone’s nuisance level – so in areas zoned for high street usages it is possible to convert a hotel into housing and vice versa, but this is not possible in residential only zones.

This allows market supply to respond quickly as market demand changes and ensures development and density is driven by land values. If the demand to live in a city grows, older houses can be knocked down by landowners to provide more and better quality homes. In the case of apartment buildings, 80 per cent of the apartment owners need to agree to demolition and redevelopment. This is why Japan’s higher rate of demolition isn’t wasteful, as it enables an efficient supply of more and better quality housing.

Local taxes in Japan also encourage more homes

As a result, there is a clear difference in Japan between the value of land and the value of the property that sits on it. Like in other countries, the price of land in Japan reflects local economic strength and access to amenities and jobs. But unlike the UK, in Japan, the value of houses declines as they get older, because it so easy to supply new homes. Reflecting this, the property tax valuation of Japanese homes also declines over time, increasing the incentive for local government to build new homes to fund public services.

Japan shows how political choices cause Britain’s housing shortage

Of course, the planning system is not the only thing which is different. One factor is that the politics of housing are rather distinct – for instance, green belts around Tokyo in 1946 and 1956 failed because they were so unpopular with residents and local government.

But what Japan’s inexpensive homes and its alternative policy approach prove is that the housing shortage in British cities is not inevitable. Housing does not have to be expensive in prosperous cities. The housing shortage is something we have chosen to experience and can choose to change if we want to. If Tokyo managed to reform its green belt, twice, why can’t London or Cambridge?

We may not want to copy-paste everything about Japanese housing into UK policy. We may, for instance, choose a larger role for social housing, or slightly stronger heritage conservation. But for national and local policymakers trying to end the housing shortage, understanding Japan’s experience is essential if we want housing to be inexpensive for everyone.

BREAKING: Four Escape Death as Two-storey Building Collapses in Owerri

Four persons were critically injured on Sunday when a two-storey building collapsed in Owerri, Imo State.

The incident, which happened at 4:34pm at Number 10, Amaram Extension Street, less than a kilometer from Dan Anyiam Stadium, where the governor-elect held a nondenominational church service ahead of his inauguration next Wednesday, caused pandemonium in the area.

Our Correspondent who visited the scene saw rescue workers, which included policemen and residents, rescuing victims.

A policemen who does not want his name in print told our correspondent that four persons, including a female occupant, were rescued from the debris.

He said, “On arrival, we saw people already on a rescue mission. We quickly swung into action and rescued four persons.

“Two who are critically injured have been rushed to the hospital.”

One of the survivors, who identified himself as Paul, said he had to jump out of the building after he observed a strange noise.

He said luckily for him, immediately he jumped out, it gave way.

An eyewitness said, “This building has remained uncompleted for over 20 years. This highly unfortunate.

“The blocks have soaked water, leading to its collapse. Surprisingly, the owner left this place about 15 minutes ago.”

Source: Punchng

Why property crowdfunding is considered a sham

IT is baffling how the pursuit of gains has rendered a floor, a couple of walls and a roof an investment instrument, with no consideration for societal norms for the need to own a house as a fundamental human right to shelter.

Real estate has, over the decades, been a much-loved investment avenue, especially among Asians. The sort of property investment we are familiar with mostly involves rental and tenancy. The real estate investment trust is yet another property-linked investment, where investors receive dividends.

The unveiling of a property crowdfunding (PCF) framework by the Securities Commission (SC) yesterday, however, takes property investment to a whole new level.

Housing is now seen from a purely moneyed viewpoint – will house prices rise or fall? The investor would want prices to escalate, as he profits only if it does.

Stranger still is the fact that this legal framework experiments with this “new alternative” by placing the young first-time home buyers squarely as a bait against money-eyed investors chasing after yields and profits. Both have widely different agendas.

Under PCF, you need a platform operator, investors, developers and house buyers. It will not work without someone taking the bait.

Now, the SC has plainly said that it is not going into the property sector, that it is merely providing a legal framework.

As housing is a big-ticket item, there will come a time when the house buyer would need a loan to pay the 80% or 90% he does not own. Or, he can opt out and be homeless. One might say that he could rent, but that is not the point. The point is, how will PCF help a young person purchase his own house?

The banking sector may not be involved in the initial years as the investment runs its course. But just as there is an exit point for investors to make a killing after, say, five years, the house buyer has to decide to exit, or remain.

By all measures, crowdfunding has its merits because it allows like-minded investors to put their money in a project or a business. But is this pooling together of resources linked to home ownership? Instead of a house, let’s take the case of a vintage car (we will forget about that Mercedes because it is a depreciating asset).

Millennials cannot afford a vintage car, but under this crowdfunding alternative, they can put down 10% and “own” it for five years.

The investors will bet that the price of the vintage car will rise. Granted, he can’t live in a car, but this is to drive home the point that crowdfunding as “an alternative” to bypass the bank has its merits when it involves a business, project or even some cause. However, it is unacceptable to promote it as “an alternative” to fund a young person’s hopes of owning a house.

This brings us to the next question, why is the government equating home ownership to an investment proposition when it is so obvious that the young house buyer and the investor have different objectives? Has it anything to do with the fact that the country has more than 32,000 units of unsold residential units with no takers because banks have put in place stringent lending guidelines?

So, the powers-that-be conveniently dig a new path to bypass the banks in providing “an alternative” in a bid to bring these unsold units down, while at the same time quelling the cries of first-time home buyers who find it impossible to buy a house.

If this is the case, then we have politicised housing, without thinking of societal and economic consequences, and without actually bringing house prices down.

Affordability issues are not being resolved here, only new ways of financing are being created.


Site Engineer, Five Others Trapped under a Collapsed four-storey Building in Onitsha

Six persons were feared trapped on Wednesday under the rubble of a four-storey building that collapsed in Onitsha, Anambra State.

The incident happened on No. 7, Ezenwa Street, Onitsha. An eyewitness said eight persons were under the building when the four-storey building under construction caved in at about 1.45pm.

The source said those trapped were six labourers, including the site engineer. It was gathered that the building was owned by a lawyer.

The Divisional Police Officer for Onitsha Central Police Station, Ifeanyi Iburu, led a team of security operatives to the scene.

Other rescue teams were Red Cross officers and other security agencies.

Sympathizers and passersby also joined in the rescue mission.

Confirming the incident, the Chairman, Red Cross Society in Anambra State, Prof. Peter Katchy, said the rescued casualties had been rushed to the hospital for medical attention.

He said, “One of the persons rescued by Red Cross is in the intensive care unit at Holy Rosary Hospital Waterside, Onitsha; while another is at the General Hospital, Onitsha.

“Four are still trapped under the debris of the collapsed building, including the site engineer.

“The Excavator and an Earth Moving Vehicle have just arrived now.”

Source: Punchng

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