•Says incessant collapse indicates no professionalism in Nigeria’s construction industry
By Kingsley Adegboye
The immediate past president of the Nigerian Institute of Building, NIOB, and pioneer president of Building Collapse and Prevention Guild, BCPG, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, has lamented the alarming rate at which buildings are collapsing across the country, pointing out that incessant collapse of buildings in Nigeria implicitly indicates that professionalism is lacking in Nigeria’s construction industry.
Awobodu who spoke recently at the T. M Olatunji Distinguished Annual Lecture organised by the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers in Lagos with the theme: The Role of Professionals in the Prevention of Building Collapse in Nigeria- A Call to Action, said even as he was about to deliver his paper, a breaking but bad news of another building collapse had surfaced in the media.
According to him: “The effect of these frequent collapses is that data on collapsed buildings keeps changing at an alarming rate. BCPG database thus needs constant updating. Consequently, the number of reported or documented collapsed buildings in Nigeria since October, 1974 as at today, is over 550.
“That of Lagos State stands at over 320. In that case, Lagos State accounts for 63 per cent of collapsed buildings in Nigeria. Yet, it has the smallest land area among the 36 states of the federation. The alarming rate at which the BCPG record of collapsed buildings in Nigeria is being reviewed makes me appreciate the herculean task facing the updating team of the organisation searching around for news of collapsed buildings.
“Owners of collapsed buildings usually try to conceal the information in order to circumvent the confiscation of their land by the government. For this reason, the BCPG records of collapsed buildings consist only of the ‘exposed’ or reported collapsed buildings. Our hearts go out to the unfortunate victims of these two recent collapses as well as previous collapses in our country. It is in this context that I now proceed to my presentation at this august occasion.
“Experience has taught us that each time a building collapses in Nigeria, built environment professionals in other parts of the world tend to doubt the competence of professionals in the Nigerian Building Industry. Building collapse is a global phenomenon, but the frequency at which buildings collapse in Nigeria has attracted a worldwide concern on the need to assist this country to improve on its safety performance.
“Concerns expressed by our colleagues in diaspora over incessant collapse of buildings in Nigeria implicitly indicate that professionalism is lacking in the Nigerian construction industry. Moreover, the usual excuse that a collapsed building had earlier been earmarked for demolition makes the Nigerian Building regulatory mechanism questionable in the eyes of the world. “With a critically negative impression about Nigeria’s construction industry professionals, the need to save our collective image became pertinent. Quackery, poor regulatory framework, and weak enforcement apparatus remain the bane to building control.