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Enforce standards on block moulding, govt urged

According to The Nation, stakeholders in the block moulding sub-sector of the country’s building and construction industry have called on the Federal and state governments to institute a body empowered by legislation to monitor the quality of building blocks being produced in the country.

They are convinced that such effort will help prevent cases of collapsed building in the country.     The consensus was made last week at a workshop organised by the Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG) Igando-Ikotun Cell, Lagos. The theme of the workshop was: “Economic Recession and Inflation: Sustainable quality in the production of Sandcrete Blocks and Allied Products.”

At the workshop, the BCPG Ikotun Cell Coordinator, Mrs. Adekemi Okusaga, a quantity surveyor, said the theme was carefully selected to address one of the main challenges in the built environment.

The General Manager, New Towns Development Authority, Lagos, and Chairman, Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN), Lagos State Chapter, Mr. Wasiu Akewusola, urged all stakeholders to close ranks and work towards forestalling collapse building in the country. He said it was wrong for anybody to wait for disaster to occur before rising up to the challenge. He urged all stakeholders to be proactive in their efforts to having a better country and safer building industry.

In his keynote address, president BCPG, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, noted that in times past, the quality of blocks used for construction was not in doubt. However, he regrets that the story is not the same in the present times- a development that has become a source of concern for construction professionals.

Awobodu, a builder, lamented the absence of a regulating body for blocks’ production, adding that the time had come for the governments to rise the occasion. “Lack of regulation in the production of blocks has been the major source of this problem. Block making business has become an all-comers affair. The machine for manufacturing blocks is easily fabricated in all nooks and crannies without strict specifications and standard. There is no monitoring system for the quality of sand and water being used for block production,” he lamented. He however assured that the BCPG would not relent in its efforts towards having a safer building industry in the country.

The President, National Association of Block Moulders of Nigeria (NABMON), Alhaji Rasheed Adebowale, however said apart from regulation issue, some block moulders are also in the habit of looking for cheaper blocks, which in turn leads to inferior block production. A former president, Nigerian Institute of Structural Engineers, Dr. Victor Oyenuga, submitted that block production is an engineering business.

“Block making is not an all comers affairs, it is a serious engineering business and must be taken as such. It becomes imperative when the building is to be a load bearing form of construction which is the most widely used method here for bungalows and two storey (one suspended upper floor) buildings,” he said, adding that all efforts should be made to meet the standard requirements of the Code in the  production of sandcrete blocks.

The Head of Department of Building, University of Lagos, Prof. Godwin Idoro, identified four main factors affecting block making in the country. These are: government-related causes, design-related causes, construction-related causes and material-related cause.

According to the Don, a study by the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), suggested that that only five percent of Nigerian blocks are produced (moulded) to specifications. This, he said, presupposes that 95 per cent of the sandcrete blocks in circulation or that are used for construction are substandard.

He argued that there must be development of codes and standards on sandcrete blocks by government agencies in collaboration with research institutions and professional bodies and regular training of block manufacturers on the standards.

“Governments should make it mandatory for blocks to carry the name of producers, brand name, date of manufacture and expiration like other manufactured products.  Development and adoption of standard production flow chart by block producers. The issue of task force is a government responsibility and no private body can do that all alone,” Idodo said.

Source: The Nation

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