By Ikenna Asomba
Bothered by the rising cases of building collapse across Lagos State, particularly the Lagos Island axis, members of the Building Collapse and Prevention Guild (BCPG), a voluntary organisation made of built environment professionals with the mandate to prevent buildings from collapsing, has decided to seek the collaboration of Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, in its quest to tackle the menace.
The BCPG is equally seeking Oba Akiolu’s assistance to checkmate the activities of land-grabbers popularly called ‘Omooniles’ that disrupt construction activities on site such as not allowing concrete works to be carried out at the right time, thereby resulting in future defective buildings.
Speaking, when officers of the group paid a courtesy call on Oba Akiolu, at his Iga Idungaran palace, Lagos Island, the National President of BCPG and former Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Kunle Awobodu, said the rising cases of building collapse on Lagos Island has become a research affair for members of his group.
According to Awobodu, “The BCPG had over the years, identified causes of building collapse on the Lagos Island to include; lack of subsoil investigation, design error, adoption of inappropriate foundation type, use of substandard materials, under usage of materials, nocturnal concrete work, concreting in crisis situation (the Omoonile/area boys menace), space constraint and poor accessibility.
“We have also discovered other causes to be change in use (conversion of building from residential to warehouse), poor workmanship and non-involvement of professionals. At times, government officials were afraid to carry out their monitoring duty on the Lagos Island due to influential building owners’ or developers’ act of impunity.”
The built environmental expert, however,said all stakeholders should accept the blame for the rising incidents of building collapse in the area, noting that they have been overlooking the fundamental steps or process of pre to post construction of buildings.
However, suggesting the way forward, Awobodu canvassed that “future buildings to be developed should be guided by a comprehensive subsoil investigation report, specific architectural and structural design, construction firms that have good references of past works and possess acceptable level of competence, including qualified construction professionals and trained artisans should be engaged for building construction and building inspectors from the ministry should ensure that a building under construction complies with the specifications in the approved building plan.”
Speaking on buildings under construction, Awobodu said: “We recommend that activities of buildings being constructed on Lagos Island be suspended. Production of such buildings should be verified for standard compliance. Approved building plan is not sufficient to certify quality performance of a structure. Professional analysis is important.”
On existing buildings, he said: “This is where the greatest challenge to all stakeholders lies. Structural integrity tests conducted on some of the existing buildings revealed defects. Appropriate solution to most of these distressed buildings is demolition.
“However, cost implications, space constraint/accessibility, accommodation shortage and litigation are constraints here. But saving the lives of occupants of these distressed buildings is of high priority. The urban regeneration scheme that has been adopted at Oluwole and Isale Gangan should be encouraged. Relevant financial institutions should be of assistance here.
“Those who constructed these substandard buildings should be identified and made to contribute to the reconstruction. Families of the affected structures could embark on redevelopment process on their own if they are buoyant or could source for fund. However, it is only buildings with tolerable defects that should be allowed for rehabilitation.”
Noting that grim situation requires a grim solution, the BCPG called on the Oba of Lagos, Oba Akiolu “to convene a stakeholders’ meeting of prominent sons and daughters of Lagos Island on the challenges of building collapse.
The BCPG President also advocated that Oba Akiolu should constitute a building committee composed of committed Lagosians, men and women of integrity that have passion for a safe Lagos.
According to him, this committee will work with the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LSBCA) and BCPG.
“With an unalloyed dedication of this collaboration, a new Lagos that will be free from building collapse fears will emerge,” affirmed Awobodu.
Meanwhile responding, Oba Akiolu who lamented the rising cases of building collapse, particularly around the Lagos Island axis of the state, said he was committed to the cause pursued by the BCPG.
Oba Akiolu disclosed that he has never kept mum to chide even some of his palace chiefs who allegedly aid and abet the construction of substandard buildings.
According to Oba Akiolu, successive administrations in the state have shown concerted efforts to stem the tide of building collapse in the bud, even as he assured that he had recently written Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on urgent steps to be taken to arrest the situation in the Lagos Island.
Speaking further, Oba Akiolu assured officials of the BCPG of his commitment, noting that by early next year, he was going to convene a meeting of all stakeholders, with them, towards charting a way forward against incidents of building collapse in the area.