The increase in collapse of buildings in Nigeria over the past few years has become a cause for alarm. The recent being the tragedy of the 21 storey building in Ikoyi, Lagos State, which claimed several lives including that of the owner.
The causes are not far-fetched and are mainly as result of use of cheap substandard building materials, non-professionals e.g. quacks and lack of professional supervision at various levels of the construction process.
This happens in spite of existing professional bodies such as: the Council for the Regulation of Engineering In Nigeria, (COREN), Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON), the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON) and Quantity Surveyors Registration of Nigeria (QSRBN) who are saddled with regulating building practices.
Speaking recently, the National President, Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG), Mr Kunle Awobodu, notes there were over 1,000 buildings unfit for human habitation in Lagos Island alone, while 36,000 across Lagos, were accidents waiting to happen.
He disclosed that between 2011 and 2019, over 84 buildings collapsed across Nigeria. Only 21 out of the 84 occurred outside Lagos.
The minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, expressed disappointment over the incident he called a ‘horrific tragedy’ that could have been averted. In a chat with reporters in Abuja, he said such problems need to be solved to prevent future occurrences.
Figures obtained from a source at the Building Collapse Prevention Guild, revealed that Lagos had the highest figure with 17 cases, accounting for about 39.53 per cent of the total number of collapsed buildings, while Anambra State had the second-highest number with six collapsed buildings.
The president of COREN, Engr. Ali Alimasuya Rabiu, blamed cause of possible building collapses on not using experienced and certified professionals by Nigerians to execute high profile jobs. Rabiu suggests that rising cost of building materials, including cement and iron rods has not helped in guaranteeing quality assurance in housing constructions, as most persons would always want to cut corners by going for low cheaper products to maximise profits.
Commiserating with families of victims of the 21-storey building, the COREN President said the propensity of Nigerians to always disobey rules and regulations has not helped matters. COREN aligned with the Lagos State government’s decision to suspend the general manager of the state’s Building Control Agency, Mr Gbolahan Oki, describing it as a step in the right direction.
He mentions that until completion of thorough investigation, COREN as a regulator of engineering practice in Nigeria, will not be hasty in making pronouncements regarding actual cause of the 21-storey building collapse, as anything short of that would be equivalent to mere speculation.
Rabiu also said that the council has no reason to dispute that approval was given by the authority for the construction of the 21 storey, going by rumours that initial approval was for 15 storey edifice. He advised that Nigerians engage trained professionals when constructing buildings.