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By Kingsley Adegboye

Though the building and construction industry in Nigeria has, over the years, enjoyed enormous interest from the public who, most of the time, have committed sizable resources to patronize its operators, the industry has also seen occasional incidents that put public trust and confidence to test.

Amid daunting challenges, the industry is doing well in terms of growth. The latest GDP figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed the industry grew by four per cent in the second quarter of 2021 with a projected 2-8 per cent annual growth over the next four years (2022-2025).

However, in the last five years, the same industry has witnessed four major building failures that raised questions on the quality of construction.

The collapse of Lekki Gardens 7-floor building in March 2016, which claimed about 34 lives; the November 1, 2021 collapse of a 21-storey building in Ikoyi, Lagos that killed 45 people, including the developer, and many others before this are major sore points in the industry.

These incidents immediately call to mind the Biblical parable of the wheat and the tares growing together in the same vineyard but planted by different sowers. In more ways than one, these incidents have badly bruised public confidence in an industry that, arguably, has a great future.

“No doubt, these sad and avoidable incidents can discourage investment in property, especially luxury high-rise properties. They reduce the confidence of institutional and foreign investors in the luxury high-rise property market,” a building professional who did not want to be named, confirmed.

Dotun Bamgbola, former chairman, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Lagos Branch, however differed, saying that these incidents, as unfortunate as they are, might not discourage investment in the luxury high-rise property market.

“I don’t think people will be so discouraged once the competence and capacity of the contractors of such buildings are known. Without mentioning names, some contractors have both foreign and local track records for excellent delivery,” he said.

Evidently, the building industry in Nigeria has seen great architecture crystalised in beautiful and solid brick and mortar. Contrary to what has happened, in this same country are such great structures as the NET Building, Union Bank Tower on Lagos Island and the Cocoa Building in Ibadan which has been standing for decades.

Similarly, there are new generation structures built to international standards that stand out to the credit of the industry, the admiration of the public and the joy of their developers. These include The Oceanna Cerulean, a project of one of the subsidiaries of Palton Morgan, 4Bourdillon by Elalan, Standard Chartered Bank Towers; the Eko Towers, The Wings Towers, Dangote new Head Office, etc.

These are great testimonies to quality construction where the developers and the builders, including the project teams, have not compromised on standard practice.

“Quality construction demands that any building should be given the right and adequate team. Construction is not a one-man-show, but teamwork. Human resources should be enough for the project. There should be adequate checking and control on the structure and the finishing,” ArkanAljbaie, General Manager, at BCL, a construction company disclosed this.

Aljbae noted that the most important thing to ensure the stability of any building is to follow the design and the specification 100 percent, insisting that building failure could occur anywhere in the world including America, Asia or Europe where this is ignored.

“Building collapse happens everywhere. It is not only in Nigeria that it happens and construction must not stop. That means people will have to put more resources in their project by engaging the right contractor. Consideration should not be just on the costs alone. Some developers are looking at the cost and are therefore looking for who gives them the lowest cost. Beyond the cost, consideration should also be given to knowledge, experience and teamwork,” he advised.

Aliyu Suleiman, Resident Site Manager at Trevi Foundation, shared this view, adding however that quality construction of any building be it low or high-rise, starts from the foundation.

“The kind of structure you want to build will determine the kind of foundation you should have. Once your foundation is wrong, the whole building is wrong. And it is not just about the nature of your foundation. Who does the foundation is also very important,” Suleiman noted.

Trevi, according to him, is number one in piling and has its signature in many high-rise buildings in Lagos, especially in Ikoyi and Victoria Island. The projects are too many for mention but notable to mention is The Oceanna Cerulean and most recently, piling project for Paramount Twin Towers, a project of Palton Morgan.

He believes that many local construction firms are also involved in construction like Trevi, but they have their limitations. “The local companies need to invest in their resources, especially their human and material resources.

“If a company has good human resources but lacks the necessary equipment, it will still go back to the same thing. There should be good equipment and good skilled professionals with experience working together. There should also be adequate funding,” he said, noting that the local firms lack most of these things.

It is instructive to point out that the building and construction industry in Nigeria does not lack good and reputable companies like Trevi who have a stamp of quality and integrity on the work they do. These are mainly multi-national foreign firms and they include Julius Berger, Cappa D Alberto, Lambert, Trevi Foundations, BCL among others.

Equally reputable Nigerian developers whose developments occupy prime locations in Nigeria’s big cities of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, don’t lose sight of these multinational firms in choosing their contractors and other project partners.

At the forefront of these developers is Palton Morgan Holdings, the parent company of Grenadines Homes which, by no accident whatsoever, has become a byword for quality and luxury buildings.

As a matter of corporate policy and due consideration for quality and safety of investment, Palton Morgan goes for the very best of contractors while assembling project partners for its developments strategically located in Ikoyi and Victoria Island, Lagos, and Maitama in Abuja.

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.