As a response to the challenges posed by building collapse which has become a regular feature of its built environment, the Lagos State government, two years ago, set up the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) with the aim of, among other functions, guarding against building failures and enforcing standards and specifications in construction.
The agency, established under Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2010, is to ensure that people are safe in their environment; reduce to zero building collapse in the state and ensure that building standards and specifications are followed.
Additionally, the agency ensures building control in all its ramifications; gives approval to commence construction after obtaining development permit; inspects and certifies various stages of building construction; verifies general contractors’ all risk and building insurance policy; issues certificate of completion and fitness for habitation, and identifies and removes distressed and non-conforming buildings.
The agency says it has scaled up its sensitisation drive on the need for builders to adhere strictly to standards and specifications in all manner of building constructions to check cases of collapse in the state. This was jointly disclosed at a recent briefing by Abimbola Animashaun, general manager, LASBCA, and Ayo Sodeinde, director, inspectorate and quality control department of the agency.
Animashaun informed that they do a lot of stakeholders and town hall meetings to sensitise people, adding that every Thursday they go out for monitoring and road shows to showcase what Lagos State is doing in the area of building control.
She added that the agency has been facing challenges carrying out its duties in some religious and Federal Government-owned facilities. “We have some issues with some religious organisations who believe that we don’t have the right to enter their premises to see what they are doing. In some Federal Government institutions, like barracks, where structures are defective, for us to get access is difficult. Sometimes, when we get there, they threaten to attack us, or even beat up our staff”, she said.
In these places, she noted, people do whatever they like, assuring however that they were seriously addressing such issues. “The law states that we have the powers to look at buildings within the state, even those belonging to the Federal Government,” she said, adding that since her agency began operation in 2012, “building collapse has crippled and compliance to standards has tripled.”
On the right processes a prospective builder should follow, Sodeinde said the agency must be involved in every stage of the building construction, adding, “from the time an individual gets his/her approval from the physical planning authority, we must be involved. At each stage, we must come to inspect and give a pass mark before you move to the next level. The materials must be tested by the Lagos State material testing laboratory at Ojodu; we are doing all these to make sure that what you are putting on the building is collapse-free.”
Sodeinde further explained that after the building must have been completed; it was still not ready for the owners to move in until a reputable engineer who supervised the building writes to the agency stating that it is ready for people to move in.
A sealed letter containing the insurance, fire protection certificate and pictures of two sides of the building must also be forwarded to our office. Our building inspectors who have been following the construction will also issue their report on the report. This is necessary to enable us issue the owner with certificate that the building is fit for habitation.