By Yinka Kolawole
The recurring incidence of building collapse across the country can be curtailed through effective implementation of the National Building Code, still awaiting passage by the National Assembly.
Newly appointed Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, made the remark recently during his screening by the Senate to confirm his appointment. While calling on the National Assembly to fast track the passage of the bill, he called on professionals in the built sector to adopt the code.
“The National Building Code actually came into being in 2006. Essentially, the building code is a compendium of procedure and processes in the built environment to guild the various processes starting from design, construction and even pre-construction stages for the building sector.
“That document has everything to guarantee safe building construction in this country so that nothing goes wrong, and also that we don’t have anything like building collapsed in this country, but what is lacking is the enforcement of the code.
“The code is not being entrust, if you look at the various town planning departments and development control in this country they are grossly under staff, they are not able to carry out their inspectorate and supervision functions in most of the building sites in this country.
So, what do you have? You see contractors and building owners building what they like, there is nobody checking standard, even the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) who is one of the stakeholders in the development of the building code, they are not able to control materials coming to the market.
“You have substandard materials in the market particularly steel and other concession products and the engineer is designing and what he estimated as design strength of the steel he is using is actually far above what is actually contained in the material he is using.
“Our control agencies actually need to be up and doing if we must do away with this issue of building collapse. Most importantly the various professionals bodies should adopt this code even if it is not yet passed by the National Assembly, because I understand the code has just gone through second reading and I want to appeal that the National Assembly should accelerate the passage of the code, so as to preserve the legal frame work for enforcing the penalty contain in it.
“I believe that if the code is passed and is enforced, – and enforcing the code actually also provide an opportunity for our government to employ a lot of Nigerians professionals who are unemployed – this can form the crop of inspectors that will be monitoring the various processes and the stages of the building projects and I believe if this is done this issue of building collapse in this country will be a thing of the past,” he stated.
The Minister asserted that going by current trend, it would take about 17,000 years for the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) to deliver the 17 million housing deficit in the country, noting that in the 33 years of FHA existence, it has only developed about 43 thousand houses including the celebrated FESTAC (Lagos) and Gwarimpa estate in Abuja.
“If we have to build one million houses in a year, which will be 17 million houses in 17 years. If we go by the average of four thousand houses a year which the FHA is able to deliver as at today, perhaps, they will need about 17 thousand years to take Nigerians out of that road.
“Lagos state alone required about 224 thousand housing units annually based on the recent survey that was done by Lagos state, I was privy to read the report, we need to do something seriously.
I think the first thing we must do; the government must not shy away from embarking on social housing for the low income earners in this country that is one.
And it has to involve the three tiers of government, not just the federal government alone. The federal government may set the pace but the state and local governments must also identify with that particular programme.”