At least 305 people have died from building collapse in Nigeria since 2013, data from reported cases collated by Daily Trust showed.
Also, no fewer than 449 people got injured in 83 cases of building collapse since 2013.
The figures only reflected reported cases by the media as many cases were never heard of.
Lagos remains the epicentre of building collapse in Nigeria with 50 reported cases between 2013 and 2019. These cases include the infamous Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) which caved in and led to the death of 115 people with over 131 others injured.
There were other cases in Kano, FCT, Kwara, Ogun, Ondo, Imo, Anambra, Abia, Rivers, Benue, and Taraba.
Unfortunately, these disasters have not elicited the right conversation that would have led to decisive actions to halt the trend.
Experts attributed the disasters to human error including failure by developers to respect building plans and specification.
In order to cut cost, it was learnt that many of the property developers deploy quack engineers and procure substandard building materials.
Also, to date there have been no documented conviction of people allegedly culpable in the building collapse cases while compensation for victims are questionable.
Sources said most of the developers connived with enforcement agents to go away unpunished.
Daily Trust reports that there were 25 building collapse in 2021, 27 in 2020, 12 in 2019, two in 2018 and eight in 2017.
In 2013, seven cases were reported and two cases recorded in 2014. There were no reported cases of building collapse in 2015 according to our tally, but two cases were recorded in 2016.
The latest incident on Gerald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos two weeks ago claimed 45 lives, with many injured.
Though the Lagos State Government has set up a panel of inquiry, it is yet to make its investigations public.
Meanwhile, experts in the building industry are concerned about the latest incident, describing it as “very devastating.”
Expressing worry over the unending trend, Emmanuel Chukwunonye Madu, an engineer and chief executive officer of Shungrila Estates Limited, said sharp practices in the building production processes resulted to failures or collapses.
“Buildings collapse when standard procedures are compromised, either during design or construction,” he said.
He advised that adequate and diligent supervision by relevant and competent professionals should be carried out on every building at every stage of the development process.
“But the panacea is the establishment of a robust supervisory system nationwide, involving qualified personnel and professionals for both design and construction stages.
“The government must get serious and work with relevant professional bodies in the country to fashion out a competent supervisory system devoid of frustration and malpractices. It can be done,” he said.
Also commenting, the president, Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Alhaji Mohammed Abba Tor, urged Nigerians developing physical structures to always give professionals the opportunity to manage their projects. He stressed that the use of quacks in the building process was responsible for the rising incidents of building collapses in the country.
He also said the use of quality and adequate materials was key to producing buildings that would withstand the vagaries of weather and time.
“The usage of quality materials in the right quantity is necessary. That is why using professionals right from the design stage to the completion stage is the solution to ending building collapses,” he said.
Efforts to get the president of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Ali Rabiu, an engineer, to comment on the rising incidents of building collapses were not successful. However, the head of public relations of the Council, Mrs Ojonugwa Haruna, made a press statement the president released in Lagos a few days ago available.
According to the statement signed by Rabiu, the Council has set up its independent investigative panel to unravel the Ikoyi tragedy.
“Saddened by the unfortunate collapse of a 21-storey building on Gerald Road, Ikoyi, on November 1, 2021, the Council wishes to condole with the government and people of Lagos State, particularly the relatives of those who lost their loved ones.
“Following the collapse, we have held several consultations with various stakeholders in the building environment. Subsequently, on behalf of the Council, I have constituted a COREN-Special Investigation Panel on the Collapsed 21-Storey Building at Ikoyi, Lagos State.
“This is pursuant to section 1(1) (h) of the Engineers (registration etc) (amendment) Act, 2018, that empowers the COREN to investigate engineering failures,” part of the statement reads.
The panel consists of the following members: George C. Okoroma, an engineer; Bunmi Ajayi, architect; Mrs Buki Ejiwumi, engineer; Victor Oyenuga, engineer; Eddy Atumonyogo, engineer; Dr Nurain Sulyman, engineer; Dr. Will Ibim Beresibo, engineer; Ibikunle. S. Ogunbayo, engineer, Tomide Samuel Akinnawo, engineer, as secretary.
According to the statement, the panel has been mandated to carry out a comprehensive inquiry on the remote and immediate causes of the collapse, as well as gathering, recording and analysing all the relevant engineering data available on site; confirm contractor’s compliance to Lagos State building development regulations and others, and find out the level of involvement or otherwise of practitioners on the project leading to the collapse.
The panel was also directed to carry out an integrity test on the two standing towers at the precinct of the collapsed building, as well as investigate any other matter critical to the above terms of reference.
The president of the Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG), Akinola George, an architect, could not be reached for comments. When Daily Trust called him on Friday at 9:09 am, he asked that he be called back in two hours. He was called at 11:55am but his line was busy.
However, the immediate past president of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Mr Kunle Awobodu, during an interview with our correspondent in Lagos last week, said the right things must be done from the beginning to the end of the construction process.
He insisted that the developer must engage professionals in all the phases of the construction process, in terms of architectural design, engineering design, and engage a professional builder who will “help in transforming the drawings designed by architects and engineers into an object on site.”
He added, “It requires someone versatile in different areas of building to assist them to bring all these components together.
“At the same time, if such a person is not living up to expectations, the regulatory body that registered the professional will have a punishment for such a builder. So that is what we should look at. And if we do that, anybody who has been licensed to manage building construction on site would not compromise because that is the professional’s only source of income and that is what he/she has read all their lives.
“The person has taken an oath to observe the ethics of the profession. If he/she fails along the line, they should be ready to face the consequences and their licences will be withdrawn.”
Awobodu also stressed that the searchlight must be beamed on regulatory authorities in the state, especially the Lagos State Building Control Agency.
As Nigerians await the outcome of the panel set up to investigate the latest tragic incident in Lagos, it remains to be seen if those culpable would be convicted to serve as deterrent to compromising professionals and developers.
Terkula Igidi, Taiwo Adeniyi & Haruna Ibrahim
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