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Ita Faji collapse: Architects’ Council, others call for urban renewal scheme in Lagos Island

As Oyo BCPG commiserates with Ibadan collapsed building victims

Stories by  Kingsley Adegboye

Following the collapse of a three-storey building in Ita Faji, Lagos Island, last week which has exposed buildings in the entire Island as relics, uninhabitable and unfit to work in, built environment professionals have called for redevelopment of the entire Lagos Island through urban renewal scheme as a matter of urgency.

Sympathisers including professional bodies who thronged the Island during the ill-fated collapse, left with the impression that the entire Island neighbourhood was a slum because of its unplanned nature with most of the buildings looking weak and structurally defective. No visible drainage system, no setback in between buildings and no ventilation because of closeness of the buildings to one another.

Emergency and rescue personnel are seen at the site of a building which collapsed in Lagos on March 13, 2019. – At least 10 children were among scores of people missing on March 13, 2019 after a four-storey building collapsed in Lagos, with rescuers trying to reach them through the roof of the damaged structure. The children were attending a nursery and primary school on the top floor of the residential building when the structure collapsed. Police said they believed scores of people were trapped under the rubble. (Photo/ AFP)

It was also observed that the construction of most of the buildings was shoddy, as if they were not built by professionals. Most of the buildings were seen to be so old with signs of failure.

For the built environment professionals, the only way out of the slum situation on the Island is for the state government to embark on the regeneration of the neighbourhood to avert looming disaster in the area.

It is against this background that the Association of Architects’ Registration Council of Nigeria, ARCON, is spearheading the campaign for urban renewal scheme in Lagos Island.

According to ARCON President, Arc. Dipo Ajayi, who noted that building collapse is not peculiar to Lagos State but happens all over the world with different factors responsible for collapses across the globe and across Nigeria, the slum part of Lagos Island such as Ita Faji and environs with old buildings that are no longer habitable, need to be demolished for urban regeneration.

Citing Maroko, Ije and Dolphin in Ikoyi as examples of urban renewal schemes in Lagos, ARCON boss said these places were slums but the state government evacuated the locals in the settlements and embarked on urban renewal schemes in the areas.

He said the state government should embark on the regeneration of Lagos Island to avert looming disasters on the Island. Ajayi who said the residents of the area will have to be relocated somewhere    before embarking on the redevelopment and pending the completion of the renewal scheme, stated that in such schemes, there is always an arrangement to accommodate the landlords of the demolished buildings.

According to him, an apartment in the new structure could be given to the landlord of the demolished building as compensation but he will start living in a decent building in a decent environment with all necessary basic amenities.

Ajayi who said the building that collapsed at Ita Faji was a mirage of old age, conversion and misuse, insisted that the residents of the area should have been relocated elsewhere to avert the tragedy.

Explaining further the causes of building collapse, ARCON President said non-involvement of professionals in building construction processes is another factor that can be responsible for it, noting that adding more floors to an old building can equally cause building collapse. He said processes such as accidents or external factors such as wind, flood and others can also cause building collapse.

In his contribution, Arc. Ladipo Lewis, former chairman, Nigerian Institute of Architects, NIA, Lagos State chapter, said pattern of building collapse is always in low income people’s areas, pointing out that this is because there is no legislation to guide developments in the areas, and the fact that the residents believe in the traditional ways of doing things.

Mr. Ayo Adejumo, Principal Partner, Ayo Adejumo & Associates, a firm of town planners, said in carrying out urban renewal scheme in Lagos Island, which involves replanning of the sprawling environment in terms of layout, provision of infrastructure and other basic amenities, it is not every structure in the area that must give way for the regeneration scheme.

According to the former Secretary of the Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria, ATOPCON, the weak and uninhabitable buildings are usually demolished when embarking on urban renewal schemes, while properly constructed structures that can withstand the test of time are spared.

Pointing out that the residents of the area are expected to be evacuated before the commencement of the project, the institutional structures such as churches, mosques, schools, hospitals and others in the place that will not be demolished, are expected to go through environmental impact assessment to determine their integrity and safety.

Adejumo stated that in such urban renewal schemes, governments can spearhead them or they are executed through private public partnership PPP.

Meanwhile, Building Collapse Prevention Guild BCPG, Oyo state chapter, has commiserated with the victims and all those who sustained injuries in the building collapse which occurred in Bode area of Ibadan last week, just as it commended the immediate and prompt response of the

members of the community and their rescue efforts in saving workers trapped in the rubble and noted with relief that no fatalities were recorded.

The Guild further noted with interest the prompt action of stakeholders in the built environment as well as ongoing efforts of an Inter-disciplinary Technical Committee set up to carry out detailed technical investigation on the immediate and remote causes of the unfortunate incident.

“As active members of this committee, the guild will spare no effort in deploying all the technical and professional resources at its disposal to make this assignment a fruitful and successful endeavour.

“BCPG Oyo state chapter calls on the Oyo state government, as a matter of urgency, to drastically overhaul and step up its project monitoring and supervision activities in respect of all building and construction projects in its jurisdiction, as a crucial component of its Physical Planning and Development Control mandate”, Arc. Oye Sobowale, chairman, BCPG Oyo state, noted.

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