Not relenting in finding a lasting solution to the cases of building collapse in Nigeria, relevant stakeholders last week met in Lagos to exchange ideas on ways to contend the incidents.
The event was the 2014 Seminar/Luncheon organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, held at Henry Fajemirokun Hall, Commerce House, Victoria Island, with the theme: “Building Collapse: causes and Way Forward”.
In his opening remark, President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Alhaji Remi Bello, noted that there is perhaps no better time to discuss the matter than now. He believed that it is very important to do a proper diagnostic of problem before a lasting solution could be found.
Bello said that the building and construction sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in Nigeria, adding that data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that the sector grew by 18.36 per cent and contributed 3.17 per cent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the third quarter of 2014.
“On job creation, the NBS report on job creation recently released shows that the sector created 968 new formal sector jobs in the third quarter of 2014. This is definitely not near the huge number of workers and other artisans working on construction sites daily and who are considered under the informal sector.
“Besides, the various mortgage development projects being initiated by both the government and private developers indicate a boom in this sector as Nigeria takes steps to reduce the over 17 million housing deficit in the country. These made it imperative for all of us to do something urgently in order to stem the ugly tide”. He said.
LCCI however, commended the Lagos State government for taking proactive steps to stem the tide of building collapse in the state through the controlled demolitions of selected buildings of doubtful structural integrity.
In his lead paper, titled: “Building Collapse in Nigeria”, President, Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Mr. Kashima A. Alli, an engineer, defined building collapse as a state of complete failure, when the structure has literally given way and most members have caved-in, crumbled or buckled; and the structure can no longer stand as origi “Building collapse is the very extreme state of building failure when a building structure can no longer perform its intended purpose”.
To Alli, causes of building collapse can be categorized as: namely: collapse caused by the influence of man and collapse dupe to natural forces (force majeure).
“For the purpose of this paper attention is given to that cause by the influence of man either due to his negligence or incompetence. he said the major causes of building collapse include deficient structural design and Drawings and Approval; absence of proper supervision; alteration of approved drawings; illegal alteration to existing buildings; absence of approving authority inspection or monitoring of sites; clients’ penchant to cut corners; use of substandard materials and activities of quacks”.
Meanwhile, the forum observed that, studies on some collapsed buildings show that most of them are privately owned. “The implication of this is that one person takes all the decisions concerning the construction; due process is never followed. Some clients have a penchant for cutting corners by not employing qualified personnel to produce the contract documents and supervise the building while under construction, as they want to spend minimum (not optimum) amount of money on the project.
“Use of substandard materials especially reinforcing rods, steel sections and cement contributes immensely to failure of buildings. Other substandard materials can also contribute to failure of buildings. Some iron rods available in the market are below the minimum specification and should not be used for construction.”
They also noted that if a building was observed to have exhibit some of the signs below, it would help to report the observations to the housing agent who will invite the structural engineer to inspect and advise on what to do.
“If nothing is done within a reasonable time, the best alternative is to evacuate the place before it collapses.
But these are the signs to observe: Where severe cracks or bulges on the walls and columns (pillars) of the building are observed, when the reinforcements in the columns (pillars) have bulged out from the concrete and are rusty and when supporting blocks are perpetually damp and weak as a result of water seepage.
“Other significant signs are that when the floor is sagging and or vibrating as one walks on it, when the building is sinking and cracking, when windows or doors that closed well before are now not closing properly and when spalling or falling off of plaster or concrete from a major structural members and exposing the reinforcement is observed.
“When cracks that were previously plastered reappear repeatedly and when occasional vibrations through the structure (vibrations not caused by nearly machines) are felt, including an unusual noise are heard coming from the building, then disaster in knocking at the door, so evacuation is necessary”.
Credit: Guardian Newspaper