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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Building collapse: Preventing another tragedy

By Samuel Edu

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The usual practice in this part of the world is to keep mute and have a nonchalant disposition to pressing issues that ordinarily should have been given an urgent attention until damages are caused and lives get loss.

It seems as though there are some levels of quietness and tranquility with respect to the various anomalies going on in construction of buildings in Nigeria probably as a result of the fact that there are no recent cases of building collapse, hence, the general assumption that “all is well.”

One of the major problems with which we are faced with in Nigeria is the choice of deterrent measures as against preventive

measures for the good of all and sundry. This is not only in the aspect of building construction but virtually across all sectors and facets.

Supervisory agencies and bodies most often prefer to place sanctions and punishment for an occurrence rather than preventing such occurrence from happening in the first place.

As we gradually progress in the new year, it is essential to have a deep reflection on the past and the need to pay more attention towards ensuring erection of quality structure so as not to be victim of preventable tragedies.

There has been several cases of building collapse over the years most of which has claimed lots of lives and several property damages.

The most recent is the Ikoyi building collapse which raised several questions and brought out lots of secret that has been hidden.

Ordinarily, some of these questions would not have been asked and some of this secrets would not have been revealed if this building had not collapsed.

As everything seems to be alright at the moment with no recent case of collapse, building experts have raised observations calling on agencies involved to take the necessary measure as they said rampant collapse is inevitable if nothing is done.

Arc Oluwapelumi Emmanuel, a Registered Architect with the Architect Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON) and An Associate Member the Nigerian Institute of Architects who is a Project Architect, Stagray Associates said “aside several other factors, one of the major cause of building collapse which has not been given much attention is the aspect of quality building materials and standardisation.

“In a situation where a company that manufactures reinforcement bar of 16mm and as a professional, you measure it on site and you discover it is not up to 16mm, but only 15mm, this will definitely affect the structure because 15mm iron cannot perform same function that 16mm would have performed.

“In error, an inexperienced construction engineer on site would have used such iron thinking it is appropriate and before you know, the building will collapse.

“No doubt, many structures has been erected with this kind of errors, just that nobody will know until the building collapse. This is why it is essential for government and particularly the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) to rise up to their responsibilities in ensuring the production of accurate and quality materials so as to avoid another tragedy.”

Giving his own perspective, the chief technologist, Department of building, Federal University of Technology, Akure Dr. Makanjuola Sina lamented that most construction workers are not aware of the various existing building regulations.

Dr Makanjuola whose research area in on the development of framework for health and safety regulations for construction workers argued that during the course of his research, he was able to discover that most construction workers are not even aware of the various existing regulations meant to be adhered with while on site.

He said “it is impossible to take into consideration regulation(s) you are unaware of. Most of the collapses we see here and there are burn out of ignorance.

“Even though it seems as if all is fine now as there are no recent occurrence, government and all the bodies saddled with the responsible of ensuring quality delivery on site should be alert and do the needful to avert impending dangers. If nothing is done, we will continually have cases of building collapse and lives will continually get lost.”

Another expert in construction and a certified building technologist, Builder Toluwani Sunday attributed some of the causes of previous collapse to poor quality control, inappropriate site feasibility study and corruption.

Mr Toluwani said “construction cannot be erected just anywhere, the feasibility of the site must be put into consideration. For instance, it is unprofessional to build in an area where too much of extraction has taken place, with time, such a building will definitely collapse.

“Another factor is the issue of corruption which is a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabrics of most Nigerian both leader and the led. What do you expect in a situation where just N50,000 is approved for a project that should cost N100,000? definitely, substandard materials will be used.

“This is really a big issue in the construction industry and something needed to be done with immediate effect in other to avert impending dangers, prevention is better than cure.”

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