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Collapsed building: Experts’ views

As rescue operations continue with more survivors and dead bodies being pulled out from the rubbles of the collapsed 21-storey building in Ikoyi, Lagos, experts have faulted Lagos State government on regulatory compliance in the state’s building sector.

The experts described the otherwise ambitious collapse building as bad construction with serious engineering issues. The pillars were too weak which explains why the building collapsed like a pack of cards with the deckings (slaps) falling on one another as if it were controlled demolition.

“What we see here is a clear case of failure on the regulatory authority and greed on the part of the developer. We learnt that this project was stopped in June this year and the site sealed; what happened that led to resumption of construction work”? MKO Balogun, CEO, Global PFI, queried.

Debo Adejana, chairman, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), South West Zone, agrees, saying that as a nation, we should be burying our heads in the sand like the Ostrich as this kind of incident happening in a prime location like Ikoyi is unheard of in other climes.

“What has happened is grievious because it is not an act of God. The developer, we learnt, also practices outside the country and therefore should know the right thing to do. Why has this happened? I expect that heads will roll when the panel that is to be set up concludes its investigation,” he said.

Undoubtedly, the collapse of a building of this magnitude, which is the first of its kind in the history of building construction in Nigeria, comes with grave implications for the country’s real estate market, especially the high-rise luxury sub-market.

Though Tayo Odunsi, CEO, Northcourt Real Estate, does not see the incident affecting both supply and demand for luxury apartments in high-rise buildings, he sees a significant increase in construction risk financing going forward.

Read Also: More evidence shows Ikoyi collapsed building developer flouted permit

“Financiers are going to be a lot more cautious and will be asking a lot of questions on developers’ antecedents before committing funds to a project. They will be making demands from the developers on issues bordering on regulatory compliance and the kind of project partners they have assembled,” he said

There is, however, a positive side to the collapse, according to Odunsi, explaining that big developers who are known for their integrity and quality work delivery will now have to name their prices and people will be compelled to pay because they are sure of what they are paying for.

Oladipo Agida, CEO, Dradrock Real Estate, shares this view, saying that because there are fakes which are found across sectors, there also genuine developers who take the pain and commit resources to doing the right thing.

“For a whole 21-storey building to collapse completely means the structural engineering was faulty. As a developer, before you start any development, you should do your soil test which determines the kind of foundation you are to do for the project,” he noted.

“We learnt that government approved 15-floors for the developer, but he added six more floors, That alone says it all that the building was a disaster waiting to happen because the six more floors came with additional load which the building was not prepared to carry,” added.

A professional builder, who did not want to be named, noted that for the building to collapse means there were no professionals on ground to supervise the construction as it progressed. The builder wondered why work had to resume on a building that was sealed and stop work order issued, yet the regulatory authority looked away.

“Why was the building sealed in the first place; what was wrong that led to the stop work order; what did the developer do differently that made the government to unseal the building; who was the project supervisor from the government building control agency”? the builder asked.

Meanwhile, fresh facts have emerged on the collapsed building that are not only big slap on the regulatory authority, but also a dent on the integrity of the developer and the building industry in Nigeria in general and Lagos State in particular.

BusinessDay findings show that since February 20,2020 to when the building collapsed on Monday, November 1, 2021, it did not have a supervising consultant as Prowess Engineering Limited, the lead consultant on the project, withdrew its services, citing lack of confidence in the project.

The company, in a letter dated February 20,2020 and signed by its managing director, Muritala Olawale, which was sighted by BusinessDay, stated that they could no longer guarantee the integrity of the building since “we do not have the concrete cube test result for each stage of the building till date.”

Furthermore, a visit to the construction site of the collapsed building shows a phony Project Board that smacks of deceit and lack of seriousness in a very serious real estate business.

The first thing that assaults a visitor’s eyes is that the client’s name is abbreviated and given with a phone number. The main contractor’s name is also given with a phone number which appears like same client’s construction company.

Concept Designer and Project Manager are not any different as they also have no name, but only a phone number. Though the name of the Structural Engineers was given, the phone number was covered and concealed , making it even more suspicious.

The Architect has no given name, just a phone number. The same way, the Mechanical Engineers have no given name, just a phone number.

Information given on this Project Board makes it look as if there were just two distinct personnel on this project and these were the client who was the same owner of the construction company and the Structural Engineer. All these have subjected activities on the building to various interpretations.

The collapsed building, standing on 21 floors on Gerard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, was being developed by Fourscore Homes Limited which is owned by Olufemi Adegoke Osibona, who is said to be an international real estate developer with footprints in London and South Africa.

The building would have offered homes to 42 families since each floor comprised two apartments of 3-bedroom each. Given an average of five persons per family, the building would have been home to about 210 persons.

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