The deputy managing director of Senoria recently condemned the spate of building collapse witnessed in parts of the country in recent times, saying it can be stopped. ABAH ADAH writes.
There is no gainsaying the fact that one of the very critical issues that have been of concern to many Nigerians is building collapse which has occurred one time too many in recent years. And each time it happens, reactions from concerned authorities and various stakeholders usually trail the toll it has taken on lives and property. One of the latest, the Ita faaji building collapse on Lagos Island in March this year had over a hundred people, mostly school children trapped in the rubble. Following intensive rescue efforts, reports had that no fewer than 20 lost their lives and not less than 45 injured. The Jabi area of the FCT witnessed same sometime in 2018. In March, 2016, Lagos record two incidents of building collapse: On 8 March 2016, a five-story building collapsed while under construction in Lekki district. At least 34 people were killed. Thirteen other people were pulled from the collapsed building alive in a rescue operation that ended late on 10 March. Not up to 10 days another occurred when a 2-story collapsed around Mile 12. You can count on. To the deputy managing director of Senoria, a Chinese building material manufacturing firm in Abuja, Jackie Dai Hui, this is a dangerous situation that any nation which is serious with the lives of its citizens should tackle proactively by looking into the root causes with a view to remedying it through pragmatic approach.
Hui, who noted that his country, China was in the same mess some two decades ago was however optimistic that Nigeria could come out of it the way China did.
According to him, if the use of substandard materials, which he identified as one of the chief causes of building collapse, can be checked as was done in China, the country would begin to tell a better story.
“It is not just a Nigerian issue. In China some 10 to 20 years ago, the same building accidents were rampant. Even the contractors building were not at ease, that after building and handing over to the owner, collapse occurs even within a short period of five years. “China later had to change her ideas, the quality became number one, it is our country’s culture now.
“But if you choose poor quality, the bad materials used for construction, who will afford this waste, our next generation will. Using bad building materials for construction is not good, therefore I think the Nigerian government should make some rules and regulations tackling the contractors so that if there’s a collapse case, the company that built the house is penalised, that’s what is practised in China.”
On what his company was actually doing in Nigeria, the director said the company which was established in Abuja in 2008, manufactures roofing sheets and cement.
“We are into roofing sheets and cement. In the beginning, our company carried out the construction of all the cement plants in Nigeria, including that of Dangote and the BUA Group.
“During these eleven years of our company being here, we felt it was time to contribute our quota to the development of Nigeria, so we installed a factory called FABCON in Abuja where we produce stone-coated roofing sheets and fibre cement boards that have a very long lifespan. We do not just focus on the factory activities; we also have stake in the construction industry. So my company is not only into manufacturing and marketing of products, we are also into construction,” he said.
He said his company has been working with all the major cement factories in the country, including Dangote Group, BUA Group, and even Lafarge, for almost 20years alongside China road contractors, adding that his company prioritises quality above all other considerations in manufacturing its products. “To us, safety is the essence of building and this can only be guaranteed when the materials are of standard, so quality is number one on our scale. Our company- China National Building Material, CNBM Group, a company known in the whole world, focuses on quality and everything we do centres around standards. We are even in collaboration with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), and the Abuja Environmental Protection Board, AEPB. Our company also supports them in the quest to ensure global standards in Nigeria,” he said.
On why his company chose Nigeria as investment destination, Hui, who was of the view that the Nigerian business climes was one of the most fertile and friendly in the world said, “In Nigeria generally, I think many companies have very bright future if they can uphold quality in what the do. Quality will always speak for you.
“Nigeria is the largest country in Africa, just like China is the largest country in Asia. I think Nigeria is seen more like China before, because when we came here, we found out that your country is investment and business friendly and we’ve been having a very good working experience with the people of the nation, and Nigerians are very welcoming.
“I think it was time for our company and our country- China to close ranks with the people and government of Nigeria, and that was why we established our company- Senoria and our factory- FABCON here.”
Contrary to popular perception that materials made in Nigeria are usually fake, Hui said, “Our products are made here in Nigeria, when you get to our factory, you will find out that it is the biggest factory in the country for producing stone coated roofing sheets.
“Our products are made here in Nigeria, when you get to our factory, you will find out that it is the biggest factory in the country for producing stone coated roofing sheets, and our products are top in quality.
“It is not just about Nigeria; some people told me that about 99 per cent of products in Nigeria are imported from China, and that an average Chinese product is of poor quality.
“But I can tell you that is not true. In China, we have top quality products, but I can tell you that when Nigerian people come to buy, they request that they only need low quality products, and if this is the order given to the manufacturing company, then they have to produce for low prices, meaning that they have to reduce the quality, utilise fake materials. And when imported to Nigeria, the Nigerian people eagerly go for them just because they are cheap, not minding quality.
“For instance, I got a call from Lagos, from some of the big men in Nigeria who know about our factory in Abuja, saying they wanted to purchase some roofing sheets, but that they don’t need the price I’m offering them. When I saw their own price, I refused to accept because I wanted to guarantee them quality and I don’t want to lose my reputation. You know if you build good reputation, your company can last, but if you want to destroy your reputation, only one bad situation or product can can ruin it for you. We hope to thrive, survive and grow bigger in Nigeria.
“In terms of employment, the director said they have over 200 Nigerians working with them currently, adding that they will employ more in due course because there are plans to expand the company.
“We have over 200 Nigerians working with us as of now in the factory. We shall also increase the figure to 500 Nigerian as we hope to establish branches in other states like Lagos, if it’s that big a factory, then we may just have up to 1000.”
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