BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Building collapse: Govt should have political will to stem incidence—Experts

Until the Lagos State government musters political will and enough strength of character to take decisive action, the high incidence of building collapse in the state will not stop, architects have said.

The architects who spoke during a media chat at the on-going Lagos Architects Forum (LAF) 2022, were reacting to the Sunday, May 1, 2022 collapse of a three-storey building in the Ebute Meta area of Lagos, killing three persons and injuring many others.

They noted that the state government was trying in the efforts to stem the high incidence of building failures in the state, but it needed to do more, advising that it should step up its game and be a lot more intentional in ensuring that builders comply with building regulations.

“It is unfortunate that Lagos is leading in the frequency of these collapses. This is because the state is densely populated and so there is high demand for housing which encourages developers to cut corners. Again, there is lack of professionals manning many construction sites,” Enyi Ben-Eboh, President of NIA, said.

Ben-Eboh advised that government professionals responsible for approvals and supervision of construction sites should ensure that they sign off every stage of construction. He added that the National Building Code (NBC) should be strictly enforced.

“Government should increase its capacity in the area of supervision of buildings during construction. It should not wait until when a building is completed before finding out that it is defective and therefore due for demolition,” the president advised further.

Read also: Key insurance lessons as another building collapses in Ebute-Meta

He assured that, as professionals, they must continue in their advocacy role as watchdogs of society in promoting best practices in the building procurement process to avert the ugly consequences of building failures and collapse as a corporate social responsibility.

Abimbola Ajayi, former chairman of NIA Lagos Chapter, lamented that building collapse keeps occurring in the state, noting that the rate rises during rainy season, meaning that the sub-structures are weak.

“There is no political will or strength of character to stop the trend. Government is trying but it needs to do more. It needs to be helped and professionals like architects should be involved,” she said, adding that professionals should also embark on advocacy against the use of quacks in construction sites.

To Tonye Oliver Braid, former president of NIA, corporate governance was needed to curtail the incidence of building collapse in Nigerian cities, especially Lagos. He explained that government needed to put a mechanism in place to track the various stages of construction so that in the event of a building collapse, it would be easy to find out where the fault was coming from and who did what.

The Lagos Architect Forum, now in its 13th edition, is an annual event organized by the Lagos State chapter of NIA. It is, arguably, the largest gathering of architects and other professionals in the built environment.

This year’s edition has as theme, ‘The City Of Lagos: What Is Lagos?’ David Majekodunmi, chairman of the Lagos chapter, noted in his welcome address that Lagos should be one of the most famous cities in the world that could be referred to as “The Big City of Africa”.

“This vibrant city is known for its uniqueness as an economic hub, flashy cultural lifestyle, high-flying business hub, and it is a city that has long captivated people from all over the world,” the chairman said.

He explained that their emphasis was on the future of Lagos City through collaboration, entrepreneurship and innovation, hoping that through topical discussions, debates and interactions, stakeholders and key players at the event would have opportunities to share ideas and critical insights into review and proffer solutions on how to effectively midwife a liveable and sustainable Lagos city.

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