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Don’t Blame Engineers for Building Collapse, the government has a role to play

The Nigerian Society of Engineers, Lagos State has said that until all levels of government in the country evolve more punitive measures and stricter punishment on all those found culpable in any case of collapse building, the ugly trend would continue to defile solution.

These concerns were expressed last weekend at the annual lecture of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), held at the University of Lagos.

In his welcome speech, Lagos State Branch Chairman of NSE, Oludayo Oluyemi absolved members of his society of blame given the fact that the society always punishes professionals involved in such incidents, which has therefore served as a deterrent. He, however, agreed that some unscrupulous individuals have been frustrating government’s drive’ to strengthen and tighten building controls in the country.

According to Oluyemi, the absence of a monitoring team had invariably led to the numerous building collapses being witnessed in the state lately, suggesting that regular checks by the monitoring team of on-going construction would help to curb the abuse of the building process.

The NSE boss said that as a way of reducing the cases of building collapse in the state and by extension, the country at large, it was necessary to engage all relevant professionals in the construction process; adding that government should bring to book every professional or government official found wanting as regards any building collapse so as to send a note of warning to others who are in this heinous practice.

In his lecture, the Managing Director/CEO of Kresta Laurel Limited, Dideolu Falobi has urged the insurance sector to assume and play its role adequately to prevent or at least minimize the incidences of building collapse.

Falobi, who was Guest Speaker at the event, though admitted that there are enough and adequate law regulating the construction and building industry, however, lamented that lack of implementation of those laws are hampering effective and efficient performance of practitioners and stakeholders, to enable them prevent or reduce to a manageable level the frequent occurrence of buildings collapse with its attendant loss of lives and embarrassment to the country.

Falobi fired several posers for regulatory agencies and practitioners. “The issue is insurance or/and lack of it. Whenever I hear of a building collapse, an elevator crashing in flight or not working properly, vehicular accident, hospitals that are in hospitable, fire accidents, e.tc. the questions I ask are: what role did insurance play? Do we have enough legislation on insurance? Were existing acts/laws pertaining to insurance in place? If yes, are they strictly enforced? If yes, are other professionals allowed to play their roles?

The Kresta Laurel boss said for example, the Occupiers’ Liability Insurance under the Insurance Act 2003 and Lagos State Building Control Law 2010 require all owners or occupiers of public buildings whether private or public to provide compensation in events of bodily injury, death and property damage to the business users and members of the public in case of building collapse, fire, earthquakes, storm or flood. A public building in this case is a building that is not 100% used by the owner for residential purposes according to the Nigeria Insurance Act 2003.

He said “how many of our buildings in this category are insured? Even for those that are insured, how many owners/undertakers engage professionals to ascertain the integrity of such buildings before the policies are issued? It is my personal opinion that should the insurance industry be up and doing, the nation will surely fare a lot better than it is now.

Please find listed below a list of classes of Insurance made compulsory by law in Nigeria. Default in all cases is punishable by penalties ranging from fine to imprisonment to both. The following 6 types of Insurance are compulsory in Nigeria: Builders’ Liability – under the Insurance Act 2003/under the Lagos State Building Control Law 2010; Occupiers Liability – under the Insurance Act 2003 and Lagos State Law; Employers Liability – (Group Life) – under the Pension Reform Act 2004; Employers Liability – under the Workmen’s Compensation Act 1987; Healthcare Professional Indemnity – under the NHIS Act 1999 and Motor 3rd Party Liability – under the Insurance Act 2003”, Falobi reiterated.

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