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NIOB president decries building collapse

…Says institute to ensure buildings constructed in Nigeria meet required standard

By Kingsley Adegboye

The newly inaugurated president of the Nigerian Institute of Building NIOB, Kunle Awobodu, has decried the menace of building collapse in the country which solution has defied all logics.

File: Collapsed building.

Awobodu who made this observation during his inauguration in Port-Harcourt, Rivers state, recently, also disclosed that the major challenge being faced by the construction industry in Nigeria is building collapse, which has created grievous competency doubts on Nigerian building professionals and artisans in the mind of the international community.

Awobodu, a fellow of NIOB, who said building collapse is a man-made problem that could be overcome if there is a genuine interest to right the wrong, noted that “About 10 years ago, when I was the Chairman of NIOB in Lagos State, the frequency of building collapse in the state made the then Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, set up a Technical Committee to reform the Physical Planning and Development Law of the state.

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“The Committee which I was a member, was chaired by Brig. Gen. Tunde Reis, an architect while Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was the Vice Chairman. The Committee, having worked for over two years developed a bill that was passed by the Lagos State House of Assembly and assented to by the Governor in 2010, becoming the new Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law.

“In Nigeria, promulgating laws is one hurdle crossed, but the implementation becomes a bigger hurdle. Bearing this in mind and becoming resolute not to accept a situation where my profession, building had become a source of unhappiness for families that lost their loved ones in collapsed buildings, I was touched again by the spirit that stirred concern within me during my service year in Port Harcourt.

“Compromise and corruption remain the bane in the fight against building collapse. However, we must sustain the efforts to ensure that buildings that are being constructed in Nigeria meet the required standard. He who goes to equity must come with clean hands, so warned the legal aphorism.

“If builders are complaining about the Nigerian construction sphere replete with quackery, we should proffer the competency that will encourage developers and clients generally to patronise trained builders. In view of this, self development and professional competency drive will be salient in the programme of this new NIOB administration.

“The institute is going to embark on international collaborations in order to equip our members with latest construction technology and improved construction methodology. Specialisation in different areas of building by members will be introduced so as to promote expertise.

“This administration will sustain the ongoing nation-wide up-skill of the old and training of new building artisans by the NIOB and  Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria CORBON, in line with the National Skills Qualifications Framework NSQF, of the National Board of Technical Education (NBTE) and with the support of the NSIO N-Power programme of the Federal Government.

“Building the builders to lessen the hazards of building collapse in Nigeria will be of great benefit to the government and people of Nigeria. With the volume of buildings being constructed in Nigeria, it becomes an irony when trained builders are complaining of joblessness. This is an area the government should pay attention to.

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“When buildings are falling frequently due to inadequate professional involvement in building construction, government should institute the enabling law and implementation mechanism that will reverse the current unacceptable construction process. We shall work together with the government and also hold them accountable.

“My experience from the NYSC and BCPG reveals that Nigeria is endowed with a people that could be committed to a cause. The tragedy with the nation is that square pegs are deliberately put in round holes for selfish reasons. Clueless and unpatriotic persons, who do not possess the natural passion to carry out an assignment are the ones usually saddled with a professional responsibility. The government should endeavour to institute a system that will not sacrifice merit for mediocrity”, Awobodu lamented.

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