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Substandard Imported Building Materials: A recipe for disaster

Substandard imported building materials remain one of the ingredients that lead to failed structures.

Some Nigerian tenants and property owners have in recent times experienced collapse of buildings which has consequently taken its toll on their lives in whatever way such catastrophe deems fit. Most people have come out to blame such occurrence on substandard imported building materials which is everywhere in the market and well patronised in the construction industry. This has consistently put property and lives at risk.

Nigeria – a country that continually serves as a dumping ground for substandard foreign products especially the ones that are shipped into the country from Asia, suffers dearly in several ways from the lapses that result in such materials getting into the country.

Lives have been put at risk due to the non-functionality of a system that continues to fail every test that she seats for.

The Nation’s regulatory bodies seem to be marred by inefficiency and incompetence, which has been responsible for the increasing frequency of building collapse.

This aspect in the construction/building industry is not even as worrisome as the use of substandard materials in the building industry.
When the Synagogue building collapsed in the Ikotun area of Lagos state on 12th September, 2014, a lot of theories were propounded to serve as explanation for the death of 116 people, mostly South Africans, in a building catastrophe that could have easily been avoided. Investigations carried out on the site of the failed structure suggested that the guest house in the Synagogue had all the ingredients of a looming disaster before the collapse which was attributed to bad designs and detailing errors on the part of the Engineers who handled the project.

In summary from the materials used for construction to the building construction itself; the guest house was a disaster waiting to happen.

However, the church still insists the collapse was as a result of sabotage. It will be recalled that the building collapse was attributed to a phenomenon called ‘Infrasonic radiation’ in the early days of the collapse.

Only last month, a residential building in Lagos Island collapsed, killing an octogenarian grandmother. The building before then was on red alert and had been served a notice to undergo a non-destructive integrity test. If it was in a sane world, that building would have long been marked for outright demolition. Even the tenants that lived within the cracked walls of the building knew its collapse was as certain as death but they stayed on against all odds or so it seemed.

We have many more of such buildings in Nigeria especially in the Lagos Metropolis; buildings that are already tilting towards the ground as if answering “adhan”, an Islamic call for prayer from the earth beneath.

Lot of building materials are imported into this country with reckless abandon, especially materials from china, and nobody is checking whether it meets our standards; that’s if we have one though.

Read also: Substandard buildings: BCPG seeks Buhari’s intervention

We’ve seen situations where newly constructed buildings are being subjected to repairs and maintenance few months later, due to the use of substandard building materials in their construction. The buildings that are erected these days cannot stand the test of time, hence, constant repairs and maintenance of such buildings become inevitable. I have witnessed a situation where the walls of a newly built house already had tell-tale signs of a crack while inspection of the house by a ‘would-be tenant’ was underway. In fact, just seeing some buildings undergoing construction work, you would immediately know that such structure is a recipe for disaster even before completion.

Also, even when you step out to get standard materials for your building project, you still find yourself being swindled in the market, and end up getting substandard materials if you are a novice.

Though going to the market to get building materials with experienced workmen seem the best thing to do as it could save you the trouble of buying substandard building materials. Nonetheless, that’s only attainable if the workmen are trustworthy and reliable, and to find one in Nigeria is like finding a Christian amongst a group of ‘ISIS’ soldiers. In most cases they collude with the sellers to milk you dry and still having ample time to blindfold you whilst you leave the market for your construction site.

You would agree with me that there really has being an influx of substandard imported building materials in the country which has resulted in some of the building collapse the country has witnessed. The activities of some careless, insensitive and maybe corrupt Nigerians will continue to stir up a hornets’ nest as far as the construction/building industry is concerned, if their activity is not addressed duly.

This menace needs to be checked amongst other ills our construction industry suffers from.

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