By Nkechi Isaac, Abuja –
The growing incidences of building collapse in Nigeria in the last 25 years have assumed a very worrisome dimension as many lives are lost and huge investments wasted. Several causes of building failure have been attributed to either natural or man-made phenomena. Surveys carried out have shown that the use of substandard building materials, poor workmanship, the use of quacks instead of professionals, non-enforcement of building codes or construction regulations, corruption in the building industry etc have contributed immensely in most of the recorded cases of building failures.
Speaking at the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI) conference with the theme “Repositioning the Nigerian construction industry – realities and possibilities” held in Abuja, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, reiterated government’s resolve to curb cases of building collapse and road failure, giving its commitment that these challenges would soon be a thing of the past in Nigeria.
Onu said: “NBRRI is making contributions to finding the reasons why many of our buildings collapse either during or after construction in many of our cities and towns. The agency is also working to ensure that our roads are built to be durable in view of some of our unique characteristics.”
According to him, “NBRRI will play an important role in ensuring the deployment of appropriate research infrastructure that will meet our peculiar demands and needs as a nation. In doing so, it will effectively utilize its mandate to help science and technology play a key role in the efficient utilization of locally available raw materials resulting in diversifying the economy which will further assist in job creation, indigenous capacity building and poverty reduction.”
The minister said the Federal Government under the dynamic leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari would do everything that was necessary to help release the latent creative energy among Nigerians to develop indigenous capacity that would enable professionals in the country give their best in the important task of nation building.
“The APC federal government under the leadership of President Muhammed Buhari will do all that is necessary to help release the latent creative energy among Nigerians such that they can develop indigenous capacity that will enable professionals in our country give their best in the important task of nation building,” he maintained.
In his address, the Minster of Works, Housing and Power, Babatunde Fashola, who was represented by an official from the ministry, Salamatu Mohammed, said government was committed to improving the road network and decrease over-dependence on public finance for the execution of road projects by facilitating participation of private sector, multi-lateral and bi-lateral agencies on roads development.
He challenged the participants at the conference to focus on the challenge faced in the infrastructural sector of the economy and come up with strategies toward repositioning the Nigerian construction industry.
“I believe that the outcome of this conference would help to reduce the sourcing of artisans and other skilled workers from abroad and bridge the infrastructural gaps existing between Nigeria and other developed countries,” he stated.
Earlier in his remarks, the director-general of NBRRI, Prof. Danladi Matawal, said the general thrust of research and development activities at NBRRI had been geared towards evolving technologies and processes that increase local content as well as enhance the capacity for the utilization of alternative/local building materials, encourage small and medium scale entrepreneurship in building materials production, generally facilitating employment generation and evolving cost-effective methods of providing shelter and access roads in the construction industry .
In his keynote address, Prof. Kunle Wahab identified corruption in procurement process, inadequate construction resources, lack of monitoring and evaluation of projects and non-implementation of government’s policies as some of the challenges facing the construction industry in the country.
He said, “So many factors militate against mitigation of building collapse and road failures in the construction sector. Apart from the activities of quacks and unqualified personnel, lack of monitoring and proper evaluation of projects has also been identified as one of the major causes of building collapse and road failures in the country.
“The sector has sound policies that can mitigate these challenges in Nigeria but the non-implementation of these policies has continued to dog progress in making headway to mitigating these challenges.”