By Kingsley Adegboye
The joint interim report of the Architects’ Registration Council of Nigeria, ARCON, and the Nigerian Institute of Architects, NIA, on the 8-storey hotel building that that collapsed in Imo, has indicted the developer and contractor handling the multi-billion Naira project.
The building, which was under construction along Musa Yar’Adua Drive, Owerri, Imo State, collapsed on April 30 with about 30 artisans trapped in the rubble.
According to the report, signed by Arc. Jude Obidegwu, representative of Imo State ARCON and Arc. Basil O. Agoha, Chairman, Imo State NIA, at the meeting of the bodies with the project consultants to the collapsed building which claimed two lives and 12 workers seriously injured, the project architect who has been a long standing and active member of NIA Imo state chapter and a registered architect with ARCON, explained their role in the project.
The ARCON report said the project architect introduced his team to include two structural engineers who confirmed that they are COREN registered and participated in the Pre and Post contract consultancy of the project.
In their submissions to the meeting according to the report, they reported as follows; (a) Pre-contract, the architectural consultant was approached by the client, who resides in France, to design a six-floor hotel complex on the land he acquired at the Musa Yar Adua Drive in Owerri metropolis.
On acceptance of the sketch design by the client, he engaged the services of qualified structural and M & E engineers for the production of working drawings and approval documents for the approval process.
He also explained that as there was no formal commission letter, the client engaged him as an all-in-one consultancy service with the exception of the QS services based on their understanding. Also they were not involved in the approval process as the client interacted directly with Owerri Capital Development Authority, OCDA.
(b) Tender Process: The Consultant Architect also informed the meeting that the client earlier requested for the consultants to carry out the tender process which they embarked on by selectively inviting reputable contractors known to them and even pre-qualifying them only for the client to turn around to impose a contractor on the project who according to him happens to be his friend from Lagos. Furthermore, that the client said he has secured the building plan approval from the OCDA which copy was not made available to them to date.
(C) Post Contract: The Consultant Architect told the meeting that while they were still negotiating the post-contract supervision fees with the client, the contractor moved to site and commenced the foundation works up to ground floor level.
“When they were finally engaged, the structural consultants requested for the built foundation details and insisted on an integrity test which was resisted by the client and contractor and was not done because according to them it was due to cost implications. Instead, the contractor presented his as-built drawings which the structural team accepted as workable.
“Furthermore, he explained that the post-contract supervision being a normal supervision, not residency for the complexity of the project, there were a lot of disagreements and discrepancies in the contract management as the contractor was paid directly by the client without valuation and certification by the consultants, the client’s brother was the sole supplier of materials on site and deals directly with the contractor or his brother.
“In view of the normal contract nature of the project management, the project consultants said they made several sacrifices visiting the site as often as possible to ensure compliance with site instructions. However, at a point, the site book disappeared making them to resort to a project whatsapp group chat with the client, contractor and all involved as participants.
“When the project got to the sixth-floor level, the client told the architect he wanted to add an extra floor before penthouse. But the architect told him it could only be done on the advice and approval of the structural engineers. This request the engineers said they turned down necessitating the project consultancy team to pull out of site when the client insisted on going ahead. This according to them was in November 2019 as the project commenced in April 2018.
“The consultants also reiterated that the quality of on-site supervision on a daily basis was poor, that even when they tried to intervene by introducing some qualified and experienced on-site supervisors to the contractor, he fired them after a while, that they were spies for the consultants. According to them, the contractor was a one man squad without requisite and complementary technical staff”, the consultants narrated.