In a bid to address the incidences of building collapse, engineers have called on the federal government to revive technical colleges across the country.
This was part of the deliberasion on the sideline of a demonstration workshop on ‘Structural Integrity Assessment of Buildings and Building Materials Quality Control and Management’, organised by the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers (NICE) in Abuja.
Deputy president of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Engr Joseph Akinteye, wondered why federal government allowed so much decay in technical colleges, which partly led to the scrapping of Teachers Training College (TTC).
He said that in the 90s, technical colleges could boast of first class and well-trained artisans, adding that an engineer can only design an infrastructure, that would be implemented by artisans and technologists.
The deputy president noted that issues bordering on collapsed buildings were cumbersome, which is why governments at all levels are finding it difficult to address the root cause of the problem.
To this end, he said that the way out is for federal government to resuscitate all technical colleges, adding that Nigerians now hire artisans from Togo since majority of Nigerian craftsmen were incompetent.
Akinteye disclosed that developed countries like Singapore, Japan priortised technical colleges, suggesting that to remedy incidences of building collapse, the legislators should enact laws compelling clients and developers to engage the services of registered engineers in building and construction projects.
According to him, “Whether you are the son of a president in any developed country and they realised that you are dull at learning, they will refer you to a technical college but in Nigeria, they will keep pushing the person until he or she becomes useless.”
On his part, the chairman of NICE, Abuja chapter, Engr. Dominic Onuh Akuboh, was optimistic that the resuscitation of technical colleges would empower artisans to compete favourably with their counterparts in other countries.
Akuboh hinted that the workshop was aimed at reversing the trend of incessant building collapse in Nigeria and enhancing the quality of building materials.
He said the outcome of investigations in many cases did not indict any civil engineers as many client preferred to patronise quacks in a bid to save immediate cost and compromise on quality.
Akuboh described structural integrity assessment or tests as the use of engineering diagnostic tools and equipment to ascertain the health and safety of buildings in a similar way a medical doctor would examine a patient.
He urged stakeholders, regulatory and professional bodies as well as members of the built environment to collaborate effectively and efficiently by genuinely engaging one another towards reducing and eradicating the menace of building collapse.
In his presentation, the lead facilitator, Engr. Taiwo Aimola, disclosed that the primary aim of carrying out structural integrity assessment of an in-service building was to determine the extent of damage or extent of distress at any point in time.
He noted that buildings might suffer severe structural damages through fire outbreak, explosive seismic movements and ageing, adding that the incident might lead to extensive damage to structural elements and other areas of a building.
Aimola, who is also the head, Northern project Unit of Facility, Security & Safety Management department, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) listed other factors that could lead to structural defect as bad designs, faulty construction, foundation failure, extraordinary loads, unexpected failure modes or a combination of causes.
According to him, “In structural monitoring, periodic measurement of displacement, strains, damage evaluation and vibration characteristics are carried out with the sole objective of detecting the changes that have taken place in the structure or where the structure appears to be at risk to plan for its evacuation.”
Also speaking, the head of construction department, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Engr. Paul Olayioye, debunked insinuation that SON was lukewarm in monitoring substandard building materials imported into the country.
He noted that before any individual or company would be allowed to import, such person must have obtained quality assurance certificate known as SON Conformity Assessment (SONCAP).
SONCAP is a pre-shipment verification of conformity to Standards process used to verify that products to be imported into Nigeria are in conformity with the applicable NIS or approved equivalents, and technical regulations before shipment.
Olayioye maintained that without SONCAP certificate that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigeria Customs Service would not release the materials.
He added, “Any building materials or products without SONCAP certificate must have been smuggled into the country because our borders are porous.”
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