For almost six decades, Nigeria as an independent nation has been striving to develop itself in every field of human endeavour, obstacles notwithstanding. Currently, Nigeria is pursuing the “Vision 20-2020” as one of its strategies to
become one of the top leading 20 economies by the year 2020.
On the other hand, the built environment, in any country, determines the nature and pace of national development and the citizens’ quality of life. It has a major influence on the progress towards the attainment of the Millennium Developmental Goals (MDGs), which were aimed at reducing poverty worldwide. The construction of buildings and infrastructure are vital inputs for economic activity, leading to economic growth and increased incomes in the short run, and national development in the long run. The provisions of school buildings, health facilities, as well as the houses that meet the slum improvement objective in the millennium declaration, are all directly from the construction industry. The construction activity extensively stimulates growth in other sectors of the economy and provides direct employment opportunities for the populace. Considering the importance of the sector to the Nigerian economy and as the quest to achieve sustainable development continues, the construction industry requires adequate attention from all the stakeholders.
Also, the failure rate of the existing structures and the ones under construction appeared not to be encouraging and must be addressed.
The purpose of all construction work is to create a structural system that meets some needs. For this, a structure must be designed to avoid failure, which may result in the loss of life, property, waste of resources or damage to the environment.
Not minding all the efforts being made by the stakeholders to avoid failures, structures failed over time as a result of design flaws, aging, material fatigue, negligence, accidents, terrorist attacks, extreme operational and environmental conditions, and natural hazards, such as floods, lightning, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Apart from these known causes of structural failures, we can add the effects of global climate change, caused by the depleting ozone layer, as future causes of structural failures. Global warming is a reality that has come to stay with us, as it has been confirmed by numerous researches round the world. This means we must save our planet as the effects of the climate change are being made manifest around the world, it is now known to us that no nation, including Nigeria, is immune from it.
It is a known fact that climate change increases the rate and intensity of extreme weather events and those effects are already evident across the length and breadth of Nigeria. They include, but are not limited to, desert encroachment in the northern part of Nigeria, many rivers drying up, gully erosion in the south eastern part of the country, rising sea levels, and flooding in various parts of the coastal areas of the country. About half of the residents of Lagos, in the low lying coastal areas of Southern Nigeria are particularly under threats of flooding during the six months of raining season every year. All these effects of climate change will lead to damages to the few existing infrastructures, threats to health due to rising temperatures, and different forms of social dislocation. As the cases of structural failures are now very frequent in Nigeria and continue to be a permanent feature in Lagos and elsewhere in the country, we must halt this preventable catastrophe that is causing loss of lives and environmental disasters. The structural failures referred to in this article are common to the roads, drainage systems, dams, and buildings.
Though much has been said or done about the frequent collapses in Nigeria, the situation does not show sign of abating. It is either the true causes of collapses are not yet identified or that the stakeholders deliberately refused to do the right thing.