By Kingsley Adegboye
The seven professional bodies in the nation’s built environment under the aegis of Building Collapse Prevention Guild BCPG have proffered solution to the rising occurrence of collapsed buildings in the country.
Disclosing the new initiative to tackle the disturbing wave of collapsed building, the chairman of the Guild, Mr. Kunle Awobodu noted that the serious problem of building collapse would not solved by rhetoric and mere promulgation of laws.
Awobodu, who is the National Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Institute of Building, NIOB and a former Chairman of the Lagos State branch of the body, gave details of the new approach.
“We have evolved a practical approach to solve a man-made problem that has so much cast aspersions on the professionals in the Nigerian construction industry. When a problem has reached epic proportions, it is subjected to serious research. Data remain a fundamental stimulus to research of this dimension.
“Records reveal that no structural engineer or professional builder was involved in any known building collapse cases here in Nigeria. That is ample proof of one advantage derived when prospective clients patronise authentic construction professionals”, he said.
He stated that it is prudent to have somebody that should be held responsible for the failure of a project, pointing out that, that is the more reason a building owner should play safe by committing a construction professional to sign the professional attestation form that will make him culpable if he or she did a shoddy job.
He stressed that once there is an iota of doubt on such a person’s professional competence, the client should immediately report to the construction professional bodies or BCPG for necessary remedial action.
On the modus operandi of the practical approach, the Guild’s boss noted that “our monitoring activities would adopt persuasive and non-confrontational approach. We are more or less observers that should show interest in the construction activities in our localities.
“We shall endeavour to know the construction professionals handling sites in our localities. Number of sites in each cell, type of building foundation related to soil test report and other factors will be determined and reported.
“Building Construction is where we derive our source of income. We intend to give back to the society through this united act of social responsibility. The greater danger lies within the sites managed solely by artisans and building owners’ representatives.
Professional advice that can assist building production at such sites would be provided free of charge or a communication link will be established between the site managers and government officials. Buildings that are unlikely to stand the test of time, when identified, will be brought to the notice of the authorities.
“In their localities, our members will partner with the executive bodies of Community Development Associations CDAs and Residents’ Association for greater achievements. The Obas and Chiefs should also be of great assistance to our cause.On the danger inherent in substandard construction, religious leaders will help preach to their congregations. Enlightenment campaign can help overcome ignorance and sharp practices,” he said.
Commending the initiative of the Guild, Mr. David Addio Moses, an architect and lecturer in the Department of Architecture, University of Lagos noted that lack of enforcement of the Building Code has not made efforts to curb building collapse in the country effective.
He therefore called for a committee of fellows of the seven professional bodies in the built environment as enforcement body of the code as a way of reducing the spate of building collapse in Nigeria.
In her submission, Mrs. Catherine Kehinde George, the first female town planner in Nigeria noted that as a member of Lagos State Committee on Building Collapse then, it was discovered that developers cut corners.
While urging the professionals not to compromise in their handling of building projects, Mrs. George called on the government to be friendly with the people in terms of charges on approvals of building plans, just as people looking for land for development should seek information at town planning offices.
The immediate past chairman of the Nigerian Institute of Architects NIA, Lagos State Chapter, Abimbola Ajayi said lack of implementation of building laws is hampering efforts to curb the menace of building collapse in Nigeria.
Mr. Bebe Obaye, an engineer, and Head of Enforcement Unit, Standard Organization of Nigeria SON, said the greatest headache of SON is that people are not ready to comply with the prescribed standards.