Monday, 3 June 2019

Reducing The Scourge of Building Collapse in Nigeria

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Olusegun Ariyo writes that the challenges many believe have become the bane of building collapse in the country has something to with material control policies, laws at federal, states and local levels and its’ effect that comes with weak implementation

One of the major challenges that are said to be the bane of building collapse in Nigeria is having access to building materials in large quantities, in good quality’s and at affordable price

This, many believes remains the effects of growing incidence of building collapse coupled with the culture of poor maintenance and the weak implementation of its existing laws which has cost the country many lost of lives and properties as the growing incidences of building collapse in the country persist.

 For instance, many professionals essentially that of the built environment believes one pointer the governments are paying leap attention too is the taking responsibility in enforcing building maintenance policy in ensuring compliance of owners of various buildings of different status in adhering to the standard which is said to be part of the burning issues influencing rapid cases of building collapse in the country.

Another area of concern is the lack of structural design details and poor workmanship coming with the use of substandard materials because of the choice of affordability where many are left with no option of buying large material quantity with a lesser price without due consideration to quality material where the question of standard arose and that which in most cases, leads to building collapse  

This development is roundly done with the understanding of many developers essentially in the time of the wrong conversion of building with the absence of approval and where the supervisory authority is being boycotted

Regardless, the action has lead to economic loss to many owners and occupants in addition to wasting of time and energy.

From 1983 and 2007 about 164 people lost their lives in the incidence of building collapse in the entire country as a result of blocking of drainage which leads to the weakness of building a foundation and block off access roads also, adding to it is the use of low quality and inadequate building materials

 This is according to a study By Dr Oyewole Fagbohun, an Environmental expert titled “Material Control Policy As Alternative means of Ameliorating Building Collapse in Nigeria”

Disappointedly, it indicates  that Nigeria since independence did not have the policy trust to control construction of building from design to  a completion stage until the enactment of the national building code (NBC) in 2006. Although, there have been some laws on physical development since the colonial era, but this law is limited to building plan approval and ensuring that the size and scale of such a building structure is in accordance with approved planning standard.

But unfortunately, since the introduction of the code, the number of assessment that has been made on it adequacy to address this major problem confronting the sustainable building construction in the country is still in doubt

Giving insight into historical perspectives in Nigeria, it explained that  over the years, particularly since from the 1980s, Nigeria has been witnessing sporadic cases of building collapse and that more of the major concern is where the need to provide accommodation is becoming urgent.

Fagbohun believes incidences of building collapse is not only accompanied by a waste of resources but indeed lost of lives and environmental destruction where the country suffers a shortage of affordable housing for both industrial and domestic uses.

 A breakdown of the report shows that by the implication, the rate at which housing provision is being addressed is a very low level compared with the increasing rate of housing demand occasioned by a high degree of urbanization.

 The report also revealed that apart from a high degree of building collapse that affects housing demands, it also has intertwine effects on both public and private buildings as it is said to aid the rapid depreciation of buildings and the simple reason is because of some of the building structure is of low quality and poor maintenances

Continuing, Dr Fagbohun reveals in that report  that building collapse has become public attention as far back as 1970 explaining that the case is more prominent in urban centres with references to Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Kaduna
It indicates that in Lagos metropolis alone, between 1983 and 2007 there are 1001 reported cases of building collapse and the increasing rate is 99.01% while the incident is almost every year occurrence. This is anchored by the destruction of properties and loss of lives and environmental hazards.

It also reveals that between 1976 and 2003 which is about 27 years past, there were 40 reported cases of building collapse in the country where 376 lives were lost with exception to the recent case of ita-faaji that occurred  on March 3rd of this year which claimed 20 lives while 45 others were said to be injured

  Decree 88 of 1992 provided for the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Laws and mandated a National Planning Commission for the federal government. The same law also provided urban and regional planning board for states, and local planning authority for the local governments, but of all the 36 states, only Lagos has shown a degree of efficient implementation

There is a saying that Nigeria is not short of rules and regulations, the problem has always been in the implementation of those rules. The challenge with the Decree 88 of 1992 and the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Laws that it birthed, has been in their implementation.
Therefore, it certainly won’t be out of place to say that many building collapses in the country are traceable to the failure of the government at the federal, state and local government levels in empowering the statutory regulatory agencies in discharging their duties. This is the challenge across Nigeria, and until this is fixed, no amount of panel can prevent another collapse.

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