Collapsed building saga: Unending dilemma

The recurring issue of collapsed buildings being witnessed across the nation in the last couple of months, has come to be a source of grave concern to professionals and stakeholders alike in the built environment thereby necessitating the need to take a proper look at the major causes of this ugly phenomenon with a view to finding a lasting solution to it.

Over the years, the issue of building collapse has continued to generate national discourse among the seven professional bodies in the construction industry with each of them proffering supposed solution to the recurring problem.

To some, the problem seems to defy all known solutions but all hope is not lost yet if the postulations of some of the notable professionals who spoke on the issue are anything to go by.

According to a former President of the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN) Segun Ajanlekoko, the major reason that may be adduced for the incessant collapse of buildings nationwide can be situated in the preference by most developers to engage the services of quacks instead of channeling their construction through genuine professionals. He was quick to add, that this development is not unconnected with the desire to maximize profit on the part of the developer.

Ajanlekoko said that by engaging the services of quacks ab initio, was a recipe for failure on the part of the project. He added that this development has over the years, been responsible for the number of building collapses that had been witnessed in the country.

He pointed out that unless this unwholesome attitude was expunged from our psyche, the tendency for buildings to continue to collapse cannot be ruled out.  Sharing the position of the APBN former helmsman, Tijani Shuaib President, Nigerian Institution of Builders (NIOB) posited, that aside from the non-engagement of professionals in construction, the use of sub-standard building materials has equally contributed to the rising incidents of collapsed buildings in the country.

Shuaib said that the desire to cut cost by using sub-standard or inferior building materials has no doubt, contributed immensely to the incessant building collapses that have become an ‘epidemic’ in the construction sub-sector of the economy.

The Immediate Past President of the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS) Bernard Akhigbe opined that the problem of collapsed buildings has become an embarrassment to both professionals and stakeholders alike in the construction industry.

According to him, the issue has been over flogged noting that what was left to be done is for all those involved in the construction industry to put heads together with a view to addressing the issue once and for all.  He added that the craze to make quick money was largely responsible for the ugly trend, adding that unless a proper document to regulate the industry was put in place, the issue of building collapse will continue to be ‘a recurring decimal’.

The NIS former president said that over the years, the lack-luster approach to the issue of building collapse may have been responsible for the rising incidents of building collapse.

Akhigne lamented the high rate of building collapse ascribing it to the absence of the National Building Code (NBC) which he noted was yet to pass through the third reading at the National Assembly.

He pointed out the non-passage of the building code was greatly affecting the workings of the construction industry practitioners especially as it concerns construction. He added that the lawmakers should put the issue of the building code in the front burner ‘if only to help in sanitizing the built environment’.

According to him, the NBC when it becomes operational would help in curbing if not totally eliminating the collapse of buildings in the country. He appealed to the lawmakers to expedite action on the passage of the draft bill of the NBC sent to it by the presidency.

 Speaking in the same vein, the Immediate Past President of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners(NITP) Steve Onu said that the issue of collapsed building has been ‘overflogged’ adding that unless the matter was approached from a holistic point of view, the  issue of building collapse would continue to be ‘an unending dilemma’.

According to him, the issue has become worrisome noting that all the seven professional bodies, stakeholders and the public in general should organise a forum where the issue would be addressed holistically. He added that such a forum would provide all the participants the opportunity of brainstorming on the way forward because the earlier the issue was addressed, the better for the construction industry.

Onu said that in fairness to the professional bodies in the built environment, efforts were being made to bring the issue of collapsed buildings to its barest minimum, noting that the problem has persisted as a result of the untoward attitude of some developers who have continued to profit from the perennial  building collapse.

From the foregoing, keen watchers of the construction industry submitted, that the collapsed building saga will continue to be an unending dilemma if nothing was urgently done to address once and for all, the seemingly intractable problem bedeviling the construction industry.

According to them, now was the time to take the bull by the horns if only to remove the embarrassment the of building collapse has been causing the built environment over the years.

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