A Professor of Building at the University of Lagos and the Vice Chairman, Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria, Martin Dada, has attributed the cause of building collapse in the country to human greed and corruption. Read excerpts from his interview with Punchng Correspondent.
A lot has been said about building collapse. What in your opinion are the main causes of building of collapse?
Talking on the general principles of building delivery, there are processes that you don’t have to short circuit. There are pre-design, design, construction and post-construction stages, which have to do with renovation or pulling a building down if there is a defect. Many factors are responsible for building collapse; some are natural but for goodness sake, we are blessed in Nigeria; we don’t witness earthquakes so we can’t attribute any collapse to it. Design problems could be responsible; it could be that the buildings are improperly designed or properly designed but not properly constructed.
If a building is not properly constructed, it becomes a problem. The building may not have approval or it may have but is not properly monitored. Natural causes are there but often times, the major causes of building collapse in our society are basically human.
Some as a result of corruption, others greed; it is alarming to know that people in our country see construction as an all-comers affair and the industry is having a bad name because we are losing a lot of lives, which are not replaceable. So many issues are involved in building collapses in the country.
The professional and regulatory bodies are talking but we have to educate Nigerians about the delivery process. We have seven professions in the sector and each has a mandate, but if a developer, either through ignorance or any other means, does not get the services of requisite professionals in construction, there will be a problem. For building construction, we expect that any developer or building owner should get a registered builder to do the management of the production of the building. In this country, we have a problem of nomenclature, people call masons and others builders but by the law of Nigeria, a builder is someone licensed by CORBON, which regulates building technology in all its ramifications.
If you are building and there is no builder who manages the construction, then there is going to be a problem; if you don’t have other relevant professionals, there is also a problem. So, the regulatory bodies also have a role to play to sanction members when they err.
I feel for Nigerians; we see ourselves as experts and have committed our lives to the ‘experts’. We need to know the quacks; some of them I call elite quacks because they are not trained to handle building construction, yet, they have done it for several years.
Another major issue we need to address is the National Building Code. It should have passed the talking stage by now. In 2006, it took a building to collapse in Lagos for the building code to be finalised and ratified by the Federal Executive Council. I think much of the problems we have is human and attitudinal, and of course, corruption.
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