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Building collapse: Ogun’s materials testing laboratories

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By: Ajibola Taiwo

In the recent past, the media have been awash with news of collapsed buildings across the country. Devastations caused by these incessant collapses are not limited to material and financial losses, but even the ultimate loss of human lives, which should be avoided at all cost. If only one life was lost to building collapse, it is one too many. Sadly, more often than not, many lives are lost to these avoidable catastrophes. What are the major causes of building collapse?

Professionals have identified poor construction methodology, substandard/poor quality building inputs and poor workmanship as the three leading causes, which show that barring natural disasters, the bulk of the responsibility for the structural integrity of any building lies with human beings involved in handling it and the decisions they take before, during and after construction.

In Nigeria, many people assume that once you purchase land, all that is needed is to employ the services of artisans to commence building. Findings show that a portion of the population disdain the need for professional involvement or quality assurance and/or control mechanisms in erecting their buildings, either through ignorance or the assumption that they can design and supervise their projects themselves. Little wonder the high number of haphazard developments with no consideration for functionality, safety or aesthetics, that litter many communities.

Human beings have been estimated to spend about 90 per cent of their existence in buildings, be it homes, offices, places of worship or even recreational centres. As such, the quality of buildings must not be compromised by any government that holds the protection of lives and property of its populace in high esteem.

This must be the rationale behind the accreditation and registration exercise embarked upon by the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development for material testing laboratories in the state. The laboratories, designed to offer quality assessment and quality control to the built industry, are charged with the responsibility of conducting pre-tests, on-going tests and post-test for buildings and roads, all in a bid to ensure that the materials used in any construction work meet international best construction practices standard. Through Ogun State Building Production Management Authority (OGBPMA), one of the three agencies of the Ministry, three material testing laboratories have been accredited and registered so far in the State. These are Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta; Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro and the Ogun State Material Testing Laboratory in Abeokuta.

There are series of pre-tests before commencement of construction of any building. The soil test, for instance, checks the different depths of the land to determine the best combination of materials (water, concrete and sand) needed for the foundation work. This test is essential to determine the bearing capacity of the land, that is, if the land can carry the load of the proposed building, such that the combination of materials to erect a building in a marshland is different from that required for a rocky location. The test also takes into consideration the fact that a building structure settles every 10 years, and ensures that the technicalities involved in building are designed to accommodate that from the outset.

Furthermore, it is essential that the process of manufacturing building materials adhere to standard, which is why tests are also conducted during the construction period. The water used in mixing the concrete must be tested to ascertain the measure of acidity or alkalinity (pH level) for optimal bonding of the concrete; while the ratio of mixture of cement to sand (fine and coarse aggregate) to water is also essential towards achieving the workability of the concrete for the building. Physical and Chemical tests on the cements are conducted to determine setting time, soundness and fitness, while tensile strength on reinforcement steel bars determine yield stress, optimum stress and percentage elongation.

It is also important to note the possibility of testing buildings that have already been erected in a non-invasive technique. The results of such tests are often reactionary rather than preventive, but even at that, such tests can make the difference between collapse and longevity.

Why is it essential that Nigerians take the issue of regulation and quality control in the built sector seriously? Adhering to the testing and regulatory stipulations in the sector will not only serve as a preventive measure towards curtailing incidences of building collapse, but would also provide government with adequate information about structures, both old and new.

This information will create a database essential for planning and implementation of developmental policies, programmes and actions, relevant during and/or beyond periods of crises or natural disasters.

By going through the process, from the pre-tests to the final test, the owners of the building can also be sure that their structures will stand the test of time, and not become distressed after a few years of construction.

Moreover, going through the process will serve as a means of educating the owners on how to maintain their buildings to get the best out of them, while the propensity for job creation in this sector remains high if and when Nigerians begin to fully appreciate and involve the services of the laboratory.

On the other hand, is the issue of workmanship. In a lot of instances, artisans with no form of training beyond years of informal apprenticeship and experience, are handed the sacred responsibility of holding people’s lives in their hands. How? You might ask.

A large per cent of artisans in the informal sector do not have the basic working knowledge of why certain measurements must be adhered to, or why certain rules should be followed. They often rely on their discretion, gut feelings, estimation and intuition to make decisions that should have been made from a position of scientific and engineering precision. Such decisions, in the long run, can constitute a problem if it leads to building distress, or worse still, loss of lives and property through building collapse.

However, many find it cheaper to patronize informal artisans as they are found to be more affordable than their formal colleagues. For years, our society has operated like this, and the result is what is being experienced by the notably high rate of building collapse recorded in recent years.

To address the challenge of workmanship, regular training and sensitization activities have been introduced by Ogun State Government for the sole purpose of improving the capacity of these important members of the built sector. From the block moulders to bricklayers, carpenters to welders, all cadres of professionals involved in erecting any given structure must receive constant training to keep abreast of prevailing trends, realities and development in the sector. Through Ogun State Building Production Management Authority, Ogun State Government continues to explore this avenue to create and maintain sustainable towns and communities.

While such services cannot be offered free of charge, the determinants for charges depends on variables such as type/use of building. i.e. private, residential, commercial or industrial; number of floors; and size of structure, among others. Yet, paying a stipend to prevent the potential for future loss is an investment that many smart individuals and societies are willing to pay for sustainability and protection of the citizenry.

What’s more? There appears to be an opportunity for private concerns to establish material testing labs at the different Local Government Areas of the state, such that the services can have a wider coverage and better accessibility. This will, of course, require accreditation and registration with the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, but the availability of such services will ensure that future developments adhere to strict building regulations, regardless of whether the developments are in rural or urban areas.

Creating a functional, sustainable and aesthetically-pleasing society is not the responsibility of government alone. Individuals, organisations and commercial entities also have their own roles to play towards ensuring that our society becomes one that all its inhabitants can be safe in, and be proud of.

Indeed, the developed countries we like to cite as references all ensure strict regulations of their built sector, even in places tagged as general population housing units, and many Nigerians visit these places and adhere to their rules. It is only right that we do not resist the change that is necessary for growth and development to be effected in our own country.

Taiwo, is an Information Officer, Ogun State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development.

Can be reached via [email protected]. or 08063851859.

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AGF warns treasury managers against corruption, fraud

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Mrs Oluwatoyin Madein, the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) has advised treasury managers to guard against corruption, fraud and financial mismanagement by implementing strong internal control mechanisms.

Madein said this at the training programme organised by the Chartered Institute of Treasury Management (CITM) in Abuja on Thursday.

The AGF, who was represented by Alhaji Muhammed Aliyu, Director, Special Duty, said that there was a need to safeguard public funds and protect the interest of government and the public.

“We must remain watchful against the threats of corruption, fraud and financial mismanagement by implementing a strong internal control system and promoting a culture of compliance.”

This, according to her, is in a bid to achieve the virtues and behaviours necessary to curtail corruption in the polity.

She said: “training and professional development are essential in equipping the practitioners with the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct the activities of Treasury Management Ethically.”

“Let us seize this opportunity to expand our understanding of ethical principles and best practices, so as to strengthen our ability to serve the public well.”

She urged the participants to uphold the highest ethical standards in their work and actions as treasury professionals.

According to her, together, we shall strive to build a future where transparency, integrity and accountability will be the focus in management of public finances.

“As professionals, we must resist the temptation of personal interest or undue influence in our decision-making processes.

“We must always prioritise the public interest above all other interests, even in the face of unpleasant situations or pressure from the public.” she said.

She said ethical conduct in treasury management entailed an extremely large number of principles, which includes transparency, honesty, accountability, and fairness.

“We must adhere to these principles seriously, not only to maintain public trust but also to imbibe a culture of integrity and transparency within our organisations.”

She said that as custodian of public funds, treasury managers bear a tremendous responsibility to uphold the highest standards of ethics and integrity in our profession.

Also speaking, the Registrar, CITM, Mr Olumide Adedoyin, said to curtail financial crime, there must be deterrent, adding that enlightenment is also key.

“Once you create awareness, you must empower professional associations particularly associations like CITM, ANAN, ICAN, because where we are going is an evolving journey.

“And along the line, there are gaps that needed to be filled and that is why treasury management becomes important , if you don’t involve treasury management in your financial flow you are going to lose it”, he said.

He said that sound treasury management would help to safeguard the nation’s financial system by fortifying financial inflow and reducing corruption in the system.

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Nigerian telecom operators ask NCC to approve price hike

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Telecommunication operators in Nigeria have said they are the only service providers that have not implemented price increments in the last 11 years despite soaring inflation.

The Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria, ALTON, and the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria, ATCON, disclosed this in a recent joint statement.

The associations noted that current telecom sector pricing does not align with economic realities, threatens the industry’s sustainability, and can erode investors’ confidence.

The operators said the time has come for the Nigerian Communications Commission to approve price increments for the sector.

“ALTON and ATCON respectfully reiterate that telecommunications infrastructure development requires substantial investments in network expansion, maintenance, and technology upgrades.

“Despite the adverse economic headwinds, the telecommunications industry remains the only industry yet to review its general service pricing framework upward in the last (11) years, primarily due to regulatory constraints.

“For a fully liberalized and deregulated sector, the current price control mechanism, which is not aligned with economic realities, threatens the industry’s sustainability and can erode investors’ confidence.

“ATCON and ALTON call upon the government to facilitate a constructive dialogue with industry stakeholders to address pricing challenges and establish a framework that balances consumers’ affordability with operators’ financial viability”, the statement by ALTON Chairman Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, and the President of ATCON, Engr Tony Izuagbe Emoekpere, said.

The development comes amid Nigeria’s soaring inflation, which stood at 33.20 in March 2024. This is as energy costs keep rising in Nigeria.

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Ogun Govt sympathises with victims of Ado Odo/Ota over rainstorm destruction

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…’We’re in touch with IBEDC for prompt action’

Ogun State  Government said it  is in touch with the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) to ensure the immediate fixing of poles damaged as a result of rainstorm occasioned by Sunday’s downpour in some parts of Sango in Ado Odo/Ota Local Government Area of the state.

The government, in a statement signed by the Special Adviser on Media, Hon. Kayode Akinmade said a team from the state government was in the area on Monday to physically ascertain the extent of damage and to know how to engage with IBEDC, as well as sympathising with victims.

Akinmade noted the cables had not been energised before the destruction, which saved lots of lives.

“Our team went on physical site inspection of the affected area on Monday to ascertain the extent of the damage and to know how to engage with the IBEDC team.

“We are currently working with the IBEDC team led by the Regional Manager and the Technical Head for the Ogun Region. Some of the less affected feeders have been restored and energised while the clean-up of the most affected areas has already started.

“Most of the poles on the roads have been removed while the remaining will be taken out today (Wednesday). We are working with IBEDC to ensure there will be full restoration of power in Sango Ota before the week runs out.

“The government is not relenting in its effort to make sure that we restore power to Sango Ota and its environs and we can assure the citizens that we are on top on the matter.

“We, therefore, commiserate with those whose properties were destroyed by the fallen poles, as the government urged those living in the area to remain calm.”

Residents of lyana lyesi, Osuke Town, Egan Road, lyana Ilogbo, Ijaba, Ijagba, Itele, Lafenwa, Singer, Joju, Alishiba, Oju Ore, Tollgate, Eledi, Akeja, Abebi, Osi Roundabout, Ota Town, Ota Industrial Estate, Igberen, lju, Atan, Onipanu, Obasanjo, Lusada, Arigba, Odugbe, Ado-Odo, Igbesa, Owode. Olokuta, Hanushi, Bamtish Camp Lufiwape, Eltees Farm, August Engineering, Spark Cear Soap Ayetoro, Amazing Grace Oil, Christopher University, Royal Garden Estate were affected by the disaster.

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