Lagos – Professionals with the construction industry have called on the federal government to immediately undertake full-blown scientific investigations into the ongoing earth tremor in Mpape, Maitama, Gwarinpa, and Utako areas of Abuja, Federal Capital Territory.
This, they said is necessary to among other things boost the confidence of both occupants and investors in the area.
Although the FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), had issued a statement, allaying the fears of occupants, the Abuja Geological Survey Agency, had, however, advised occupants to temporarily vacate their homes until the vibration stops.
Notwithstanding responses from these agencies, some experts have reacted, saying such pronouncements were not enough.
Kenneth Nduka, president, Nigeria Institute of Building (NIoB) disclosed this that the Nigerian system is run on assumptions.
Everything, he said, is based on unverified assumption and that the general public is being implored to stay calm, just like that.
He pointed out that if it was to be in saner climes where technology and professionalism are employed to address and challenge the frontiers of nature for the good of man, not only would serious seismic investigations by the appropriate institutions with competence and capacity have already commenced but that periodic outcomes and feedbacks would have started whetting the appetites of the general public, in other to shore up the bandied conviction that all is well.
Nduka confessed that with the present situation in the affected areas, investments in the housing sector remains the greatest casualty because the quantum of risks exposure that the tremor engenders for the industry would be best imagined.
“Hence, this simplistic response by FEMA needs be pointedly followed up, deeper and farther. We need scientifically justified assurance, and proposition that will serve the right basis for redemptive/mitigated design proposals, as well as assurance that will shore up the confidence of real estate investors in the built environment.
“I, therefore, posit that all stakeholders in the building and infrastructure development industry, most especially all the professional groups in the built environment to specifically demand proper scientific investigation into this earth movement manifestation, if the benefits of the early warning signs it has triggered off must be rightly harvested.”
Nduka maintained that we must avoid the crass politicization of very serious matters. The time to act, he said is now!
Nduka is not alone on this, Emmanuel Afolayan, president, Real Estate Development Association of Nigeria (REDAN), hinted that they, the developers who live by construction activities feel it much more than anyone else. He insisted that the agency of government, saddled with the responsibility of investigating the intensity of tremor are not doing enough; that a mere one or two hours broadcast, does not in any way make any positive contribution or help issues.
He said that they shouldn’t wait until there are collapses and people losing their lives in the process, before the agencies of government begin to run helter skelter to save lives; adding that incidents of this nature should not be a one or two days affairs; that apart from the press talking about it now, that nothing is being heard. And like every other issue in Nigeria, he indicated that it has come and gone.
“Nothing has been learnt and nothing has been corrected if there is a need for correction. So, this is not too good for a developing country, particularly, where people do the cost of land; the cost of living as well as do incremental housing.
“Especially, in the outskirts of Abuja where people will first do a room and parlour and then begin to add more rooms. They do construction of buildings over a long period of time. Tremors and other disasters have higher effects on such kind of construction model.”
He stressed that he had expected the agency of government to have begun showing the public what has actually gone wrong and the intensity of the effects on various areas so as to know what line of action to take. But we have not heard where they have gone into, where they have resettled people, or where they have got samples, he said.
Afolayan remarked that where a family or organization is using just one building, they, the developers are using several buildings, hence, they feel the impact, more than anyone else. Ironically, he added, there is very little they can do because it is a natural disaster.
“Very scarcely will you see a developer abandoning a construction project because of little effects of tremor. We see what we can correct and go ahead with the construction and that is not too good for the society because an average developer is counting on profits and losses; he is concerned about his investment and that is not too good.
“Things like this might not be noticed immediately. But in several days, weeks and years, you will see their effects manifesting. You will just discover that ordinary rain or wind will bring about a devastating effect. People will not know it might have started with the recent earth tremor.”
The Developer appealed to government to support developers with information as they need to do much more than they have done so far. Government, he said, should be going round by putting buildings under continuous investigations.
Bisi Adedire, former chairman, Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON), on his part, stated that when any natural disaster occurs in an area, nobody would want to have anything to do with that area. Natural disasters, he said, displaces people from their places of abode, thereby grounding economic activities in such areas.
He, however, advised that government and various stakeholders should intensify efforts in bringing all the geological experts together to carry out all the tests and investigations so that people will not be living in fear. Besides, he also suggested that they should evacuate and resettle people in areas prone to tremor.
Also, while acknowledging that the tremor is definitely going to have impact on investors’ confidence and negatively affect the economy, Arc Ladi Lewis, former Lagos chapter chairman, Nigeria Institute of Architects, highlighted that government can only prepare emergency services; study areas that are critical as well as enforce new development and construction standards, that can withstand the shocks of the tremor.
For Kunle Awobodu, First Vice President, NIoB, because tremor portends a calamity, it is a threat to real estate development. Beyond that, the Builder disclosed that it creates uncertainty, distorts feasibility studies and affects projection on sales.
That notwithstanding, Awobodu remarked that if tremors are initiated by localized human activities such as mining or as a result of effects from the earthquake zone that is diametrically opposite Abuja on the globe then the that the seismic impact is already mitigated.
Surveyor Olusola Atilola, former president, Nigeria Institution of Surveyors advised that government should adequately fund the Centre for Geodesy and Geophysics at Toro, Bauchi State to ensure appropriate human capital development as well as for acquisition of the appropriate equipment.
This, Atilola said, is not to say that the time of occurrence of earthquake or some other natural disasters can be predicted.
“It is important that a detailed study of the tectonic plates and fault lines in a country be studied so that the possibility of the earthquake occurring in any part over the years can be determined.”
However, Fayomi Ogun, former Ogun State chapter NIoB chairman is of the opinion that the real estate industry in Nigeria is not really threatened because insurance policies would cover the investors.
That notwithstanding, Ogun maintained that stakeholders are very likely to decline interest in any area prone to foreseeable reoccurrence of tremor until further proofs of zero impact are established after proper analysis and evaluation must have been conducted.