Checking Building Collapse

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The collapse on Sunday, 2nd September, 2018 of the St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Adagbrasa, Okpe Local government Area of Delta State was one collapse too many. An 11-year-old and the church drummer lost his life while scores of worshippers were injured in the aftermath of the ugly incident. It was gathered that the new foundation erected around an already existing 100-year old building caved in and brought both the old and new structures down.
We recall that this building failure is not an isolated case as other public and private buildings have collapsed in the past with great casualties recorded.
Building collapse is virtually becoming a common phenomenon all over the world, but it seems more devastating and rampant in Nigeria, in the past few decades as Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Uyo, Ibadan, Edo, Delta, just to mention a few, have recorded severe casualties from such tragedies.
The Tide is worried at the spate of building collapse, especially in recent times. Between June and September this year, quite a number of buildings have failed, resulting in the loss of innocent lives and property running into millions of Naira.
A study in 2017 showed that a total of 54 buildings, both commercial and private had collapsed within four years, with Lagos State alone recording the highest number, followed by Abuja with over 178 deaths, while 228 injuries were also recorded.
Experts attribute the sad situation to poor maintenance culture which accounts for seven per cent of building’s design errors, 15 per cent of buildings failure while another seven per cent is traced to natural phenomenon. Overloading of buildings represents 20 per cent, while the most dangerous of all is the use of poor quality and substandard materials and quacks.
The Tide notes that such ugly incidents are avoidable, if only rules and regulations are strictly adhered to by those vested with the responsibilities.
Incidentally, there is the Nigerian National Building Code (NNBC) of 2006, which stipulates the rules, regulations, specifications and ethics concerning construction, design and maintenance of buildings in the country but in most cases this code is observed in the breach by builders.
Most incidences of building collapse are caused by human error and the non-engagement of professionals for the execution of projects to save cost, a practice which ironically boomerangs at the end.
Another study further shows that 70 per cent of buildings which have collapsed do not have requisite government approvals to erect such buildings, and where they have, the agency whose responsibility is to give such facilities a clean bill of health did not monitor or supervise to ensure conformity to standards.
We, therefore, call on government agencies charged with the responsibility of approving building plans to step up their game and never to subvert laid-down rules for selfish and personal aggrandizement.
The Tide recommends intense advocacy through the collaboration of government agencies and the professional bodies to educate and inculcate on property developers, the need to do the needful and adhere to rules and regulations at all times.
Professional bodies such as the Council of Registered Engineers (COREN), Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and other bodies including architects, surveyors, quality engineers, Nigerian Institute of Builders must live up to their statutory responsibilities in order to avert further disasters.
While we call upon the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and other relevant quality control bodies to ensure that fake and substandard materials are not allowed in our building markets, we think that this can be achieved by strict supervision of building materials at entry points.
It is our candid position that building collapse is an evil that must be totally eradicated or at worst, reduced to the barest minimum with appropriate measures in place.