18 May 2009

Nigeria: Building Collapse - Stakeholders Seek Overhaul of a Pproval Process

Stakeholders in the housing sector are seeking a complete overhaul of the building approval and production processes, among other measures, to checkmate the incessant occurrence of building collapse across the country.

Speaking at the just concluded Lagos Housing Fair held in Lagos, they also advocated the re-examination of usage of materials in order to ensure quality housing delivery.

General Manager, Lagos State Physical Planning and Development Authority, Mr. Taoreed Alli, noted that building collapse is mostly caused by such things as inadequate foundation, lack of or inefficient supervision, use of substandard materials and, non-compliance with approved building plans.

Other major causes of the menace, according to him, include developers' greed, lack of proper reinforcement, failure to conduct soil test, use of quacks as builders and, overloading of existing buildings with additional floors.

According to Alli, in order to curb the menace of building collapse, there is every need to go back to the basics and put in place a construction quality assurance programme for the building industry.

In addition, he called for the practice of true professionalism in the built environment to embrace the attitude of working systematically and do away with the "build it anyhow" mentality.

In his own contribution, Mr Sunday Yashim, Head, Building/Civil Engineering, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), asserted that non-adherence to standards by industry practitioners is the bane of quality housing delivery in the country.

Yashim noted the invasion of the sector by quacks and pressure from property owners as well as non enforcement of the National Building Code and usage of substandard materials in project developments are the other challenges facing the sector.

According to him, the desire to cut corners by developers in order to maximise profit is another stumbling block to quality housing delivery, adding that lack of quality consciousness which is traceable to high level of poverty and low level of education in the society is another factor.

"Quality assurance in housing delivery will remain a mirage unless Nigerians and players in the building environment work in accordance to set guidelines and rules in the housing development in the country," he stated.

Yashim affirmed that SON had developed over 3,000 standards in the building/civil, mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering departments, adding that to identify certified products, builders should watch out for NIS mark on the packaging while certificates were also being used to attest to a quality product like cement in bulk trucks.

Executive Director, Shelter Watch Initiative, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Mr. Segun Olutade, noted that the high cost of cement and inadequate training of artisans are contributory factors to building collapse.Olutade noted that as a way of curbing the trend, his NGO with the support of NIOB,is collaborating with some accredited institutions of higher learning offering courses in building technology to create a programme of study based on 20 per cent theory and 80 per cent practical that would attract Nigerian youths.

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