By Peter Egwuatu
In its bid to spur growth and development of Nigerian economy, Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc, a quoted entity on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has disclosed plans to continuously invest in the country by expanding its existing sites and developing new sites in the country to make Nigeria self sufficient in cement production.
Lafarge Country Manager, Mr. Jean- Christophe Barbant, disclosed this at a national dialogue organized by Lafarge Cement Portland Nigeria Plc , to tackle the incessant collapse of buildings in the country, saying “the vision in Lafarge is certainly to grow but grow in a sustainable way, building on strong values”.
Continuing, he said, “ we put values at the forefront of the way we do business: health and safety, environment protection, corporate governance (Ethics) and social responsibility (in the areas of infrastructures, education, healthcare facilities, youth empowerment, and agricultural aid). We develop highly competent Nigerian staff to operate our plants and businesses, through intensive training and expatriation possibilities”.
In his comment during the national dialogue, Managing Director/CEO, Lafarge Cement WAPCO, Mr. Samy Abdelkader stated that the company has been making advances in the building materials industry for the past 50 years, adding that Lafarge WAPCO places the customer at the heart of its concerns by offering the construction industry and the public innovative solutions that brings greater safety, comfort and quality to everyday surroundings.
According to him, “ As an industry leader, it gives us profound joy to be at the forefront of contributing to the improvement of our society as a responsible corporate citizen. Our concern for safety is a major reason why we have incorporated this programme as part of the activities lined up to mark our 50th anniversary of cement production”.
Abdelkader, noted the company’s commitment to the continuous development of the building industry and the cement sub sector. “ At 50 we have contributed in no small way to the development of the national economy. We look forward to the next 50 years with a great sense of responsibility to all our stakeholders: Cementing Nigeria and Cementing Relationships”he added.
Meanwhile, the stakeholders and captains of industry who attended the national dialogue to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc in the country commended the company for being the first private sector to organise this kind of forum to address national issues.
Most of the professionals, lectures and other stakeholders expressed dismay over the incessant collapse of buildings in the country.
Speaking, Professor M. A Salau, Dean of Faculty of Engineering, University of Lagos, said building failure, according to experts, is an unacceptable difference between expected and observed performance of building components.
According to him, “ two types of failures are identified- Cosmetic and Structural. Cosmetic failure affects the structure’s outlook while the structural failure affects both the outlook and structural stability of the building.”
He further declared that several attempt s have been made to curb the causes of incessant building collapse in Nigeria, stressing that in recent to times, the incidence of building collapse in the major cities of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt have been alarming.
In his words, “ Lagos, the major commercial nerve centre of the country, recorded four cases in 2006 alone. In the months of July and August 2008 and 2009 respectively, two buildings in Garki II District and Asokoro Areas of Abuja were reported.
He further queried why the National Building Code has not being implemented after 19 years of commencement of work.
In his work, we need to ask ourselves after four years the first ever National Building Code was published why it has not been enforced: has there been any improvement on the conditions of our cities and environment? “
Therefore, to curb the incessant collapse of buildings in Nigeria, we need to address some of these worrisome conditions. The professionals and regulators should wake up from their slumber and face the challenges. The regulatory and enforcement agencies become weak due to unnecessary legal interference.
The legal practitioners have major role in helping to prevent the incidences of building collapse. The provision of sections 61 to 63 of the Urban and Regional Law (URL) is adequate for prevention of building collapse .Ordinarily, the URL indicates that demolition action must commence within 21 days after notice has been served in connection to a defective structure posing danger or constituting nuisance to other occupiers or public” he averred.
Another contributor at the occasion, Builder Dachollom Jambo in his paper stated that sustainable construction or developments is encapsulated in the Green Building Construction movement, adding that collapsed building is a building which structural components state of failure are not only unserviceable requiring some level of maintenance , but one that is unable to adequately support intended loads or lacks stability due to excessive deformation.
Like other contributors, he identified sub-standard materials, quacks, absence of planning of towns, and cities, lack of maintenance culture, and some other attitude of some key professionals as responsible for collapse of buildings.
According to him, based on a research, “ for town planners, the failure to enforce planning laws and ensuring that building designs conform to laid down planning laws of development controls ; for all stakeholders, one way or the other violated the law with respect to obtaining plan /work approvals before embarking on project execution in the following order: Town Planners (45%), Clients (25%), Architects (15%), Engineers (10%), Builders /Contractors (5%). Thus there was poor level of compliance with regulations for developments.