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Why the Ban on Importation of Building Materials Should Not Be Lifted

Substandard imported building materials remain one of the ingredients that lead to failed structures. We take a critical look at the ban on the importation of substandard building materials and why the action taken by the Federal Government will do us a lot more good than harm.

Some Nigerian tenants and property owners have in recent times experienced collapse of buildings which has consequently taken its toll on their lives in whatever way such catastrophe deems fit. The recent collapse of a church building in Uyo which claimed more than 200 lives is a testament to that.

Occurrences like these are mostly attributed to substandard imported building materials which was everywhere in the market and well patronised in the construction industry until a recent ban on the importation of building materials into the country. This has consistently put property and lives at risk.

Nigeria – a country that continually serves as a dumping ground for substandard foreign products especially the ones that are shipped into the country from Asia, suffers dearly in several ways from the lapses that result in such materials getting into the country.

Lives have been put at risk due to the non-functionality of a system that continues to fail every test that she sits for. The Nation’s regulatory bodies seem to be marred by inefficiency and incompetence, which has been responsible for the increasing frequency of building collapse. This aspect in the construction/building industry is not even as worrisome as the use of substandard materials in the building industry.
When the Synagogue building collapsed in the Ikotun area of Lagos state on 12th September, 2014, a lot of theories were propounded to serve as explanation for the death of 116 people, mostly South Africans, in a building catastrophe that could have easily been avoided. Investigations carried out on the site of the failed structure suggested that the guest house in the Synagogue had all the ingredients of a looming disaster before the collapse which was attributed to bad designs and detailing errors on the part of the Engineers who handled the project. But that was all there was to that case

The collapse of the Reigners Life Bible Church in Uyo is under investigation as well, but will any good come out of it? Would it be any different from the aftermath of the Synagogue building collapse when all is said and done? Will the culprits be eventually made to answer for their crimes?

We have many buildings in Nigeria especially in the Lagos Metropolis, that are disasters waiting to happen; buildings that are already tilting towards the ground as if answering “adhan”, an Islamic call for prayer from the earth beneath.

Lots of building materials are imported into this country with reckless abandon, especially materials from china, and nobody seem to checks whether it meets our standards. Is there even a standard anyways?

We’ve seen situations where newly constructed buildings are being subjected to repairs and maintenance few months later, due to the use of substandard building materials in their construction. The buildings that are erected these days cannot stand the test of time, hence, constant repairs and maintenance of such buildings become inevitable.

I have witnessed a situation where the walls of a newly built house already had tell-tale signs of a crack while inspection of the house by a ‘would-be tenant’ was underway. In fact, just seeing some buildings undergoing construction work, you would immediately know that such structure is a recipe for disaster even before completion.

Also, even when you step out to get standard materials for your building project, you still find yourself being swindled in the market, and end up getting substandard materials if you are a novice. Though going to the market to get building materials with experienced workmen seem the best thing to do as it could save you the trouble of buying substandard building materials.

Nonetheless, that’s only attainable if the workmen are trustworthy and reliable, and to find one in Nigeria is like finding a Christian amongst a group of ‘ISIS’ soldiers. In most cases they collude with the sellers to milk you dry and still having ample time to blindfold you whilst you leave the market for your construction site.

You would agree with me that there really has being an influx of substandard imported building materials in the country which has resulted in some of the building collapse the country has witnessed. The activities of some careless, insensitive and maybe corrupt Nigerians will continue to stir up a hornets’ nest as far as the construction/building industry is concerned, if their activity is not addressed duly.

This menace needs to be checked amongst other ills our construction industry suffers from, hence the ban on the importation of building materials is a welcome development.


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