By Yinka Kolawole
Following the collapse of a building in Lagos recently, which led to loss of lives and property, the Lagos State government has announced the immediate take off of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), as part of measures to curtail the recurrence of such incidents.
Governor Babatunde Fashola who announced the immediate take off of the agency, called for an inter-ministerial collaboration between ministries of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Housing and Environment on measures that would put an end to the unfortunate incidences of building collapse.
Following the announcement, the state Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development is planning an immediate review of the report on distressed buildings between 2008-2010 when Lagos witnessed several cases of buildings collapse. Senior officials of the ministry also expressed the need to ensure that all buildings above one-storey comply with insurance certification.
It would be recalled that the LASBCA was created almost 13 months ago for the enforcement of building control regulations and implementation of the 2010 Physical Planning, Urban Development and Building Law in the state.
The functions of LASBCA include: the inspection of building works and the certification of various stages of building construction and keeping of such records; removal of illegal and non-conforming developments; identification and removal of distressed buildings to prevent collapse and; the issuance of Certificate of Completion and Fitness for Habitation.
Other functions are: the provision of building services such as material evaluation and testing, fire and public health control; establishment of District Development Control Offices for the discharge of these functions; Conducting research in building construction and control; Cooperating with the Development Permit Authority to achieve zero tolerance of illegal developments; Enforcing the provisions of the new law and any regulations that may be made under the law for inspection of building, verification and certification of building insurance, among other powers.
Incidences of building collapse have recently assumed an alarming proportion in the state, prompting calls by the Nigerian Society of Engineers through its Structural Engineering Division, the Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (NIStructE) for greater enforcement of the laws and regulations within the building industry, following observations that some developers are erecting buildings without necessary approvals and technical expertise.
Meanwhile, the State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr. Toyin Ayinde, has announced the immediate sealing off of three buildings located at 67, Agoro Street, adjacent to the collapsed building at 2, Mogaji Street, 66, Obuneko Street and 26, John Street, all in Idumota, which officials in the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development described as “visibly distressed”. They are to be eventually demolished after thorough investigation by relevant departments.
Ayinde declared that some of the distressed buildings were unapproved and were built several years ago when order was not in place, noting that close to 145 buildings that were reported to be in a distressed state had already been earmarked for demolition between 2007/2010. He promised to study the report and make necessary recommendation at the State Executive Council meeting.
“There wouldn’t be difficulty in revocation of building plan approval if such property constitutes threats to the public. Government will not hesitate to revoke any building plan approvals from any developer who deviates from stipulated guidelines after approval has been granted,” he said, noting that some developers have been known to change designs and specifications of buildings after already obtaining building plan approval.