Due to the increasing incidents of building collapse, building construction experts have called for more awareness on the role of foundation in sustaining a building.
At a stakeholders’ forum conveyed by the Building Collapse Prevention Guild, Kosofe Cell, for foundation experts, drillers and other professionals, it was noted that the foundation was one of the major causes of building collapse and members of the public were urged to form the habit of employing the services of experts to handle their construction, especially the foundation.
The President, Nigeria Institution of Structural Engineers, Mr. Oreoluwa Fadayomi, said it had become necessary to let the public know that not all builders were specialists in foundation construction.
He said, “There’s a need for public education when it comes to foundation; people need to know that there are experts who are skilled in knowing the types of soil and the kind of foundation that should be used when building on different types of soil in order to avoid structural failure.
“The first thing to do when building is to investigate the soil no matter the size of the project; no two soils are the same and a site can have different types of soil even on the same plot of land; so, every soil must be investigated and this can only be done by the appropriate expert.”
Fadayomi said the idea of using borehole drillers to investigate soil types was detrimental and could result into loss of lives and property on the long run as the foundation was the bedrock of every building.
The Executive Director, Associated Drilling and Geotechnics Limited and a member of the BCPG, Ikeja Cell, Mr. Frank Ikuewan, said investment in properly constructed foundation would save cost, with safety considerations assured.
The Senior Research Officer, Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute, Mr. Edom Atomen, stated that the implementation of policies and laws was a major challenge in the construction sector.
According to him, NBRRI has several reports on how to reduce structural failures in the country but nothing has been done about them.
Atomem said it was necessary for experts and their clients to have good communication on soil investigation and the appropriate type of foundation before embarking on any construction project.
His colleague from NBBRI, Mr. Samuel Ajayi, said that the cost of soil test was just about one per cent of the total cost of construction, adding that most incidents of structural collapse, especially in Lagos, were as a result of the low-bearing capacity of the soil.
“The bearing capacity of the soil is very important in building construction and so, field as well as laboratory tests should be carried out,” he said.
According to the National President, BCPG, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, a common problem in building collapse is failed foundation.
“Building collapse has become a menace in Nigeria, especially in Lagos, which has the highest incidents in the world. This should be an embarrassment to those who construct foundations such as geo-technicians,” he said.
Awobodu added that many artisans were running away from drilling as a job because the trade was not properly organised.
A driller, Mr. Femi Badmus, noted that many drillers and geo-technicians lacked the requisite skills and that the absence of regulation in the sector had helped the quacks to thrive.
“There are many people who cannot interpret soil readings and they are drillers; there are others who will drill 10 metres and claim to have done 30 metres. Most of the people are just after money,” he said.
An Assistant Director with the Lagos State Building Control Agency, Mr. Gbolahan Oki, said there was a need for professionals to work together and also pass their knowledge down to the younger generation in order to arrest the ugly situation of failed structures.
“Things are getting dynamic; we should not be static. If we don’t want buildings to keep collapsing, we must do the right thing,” he stated.
The Director, Post-construction, LASBCA, Mr. Joseph Oyewale, said many construction professionals were corrupt and called for proper remuneration of drillers.
A representative of the Lagos State Safety Commission, Mr. Olaopa Olusoji, called for the incorporation of safety measures in building construction.
He said, “We do the right thing when we incorporate safety at the design stage. From the block moulders to all other professionals, the safety code should be observed.”
The Coordinator, BCPG, Kosofe Cell, Mrs. Jane Ogbu, said it had become necessary to enlighten people on the importance of a good foundation to the longevity of a building as collapses had become threatening to the construction industry.