INCIDENTS of collapsed buildings have become daily items in the news. It has long been established that most buildings, especially multi-floor and high-rise ones, collapse as a result of poor adherence to safety regulations for modern edifices.
Developers of such buildings often cut corners, avoid the employment of qualified building professionals and connive with regulatory authorities to subvert the law. Most collapsed buildings were either not certified by relevant government agencies or fraudulently approved.
What does one say of government-erected buildings collapsing? That was exactly the tragic incident in Jakande Estate, in Ejigbo, Lagos. A two-storey house built by the Lagos State Development and Property Company, LSDPC, collapsed on Wednesday, killing (as at press time) three people, injuring many others and extensively damaging private property.
Ironically, the LSDPC in its website claims the following in its mission statement:
"To provide excellent houses and related services with utmost maintenance culture with a view to satisfying customer needs; to engender the highest standard of professional (practice) among staff, make returns to shareholders and be socially responsible".
The collapse of a government-owned structure is a serious indictment on government's ability to perform its services to the people in a manner that elicits confidence in the consuming public. If government agency's buildings also collapse, what sort of example is the state setting for the citizens whose properties are confiscated by law when they collapse? Are there no safety regulations for government owned buildings?
In some societies, someone would have resigned as a result of this barefaced failure of LSDPC to live up to its mandate. The "Jakande Estates", as the massive housing estates former State governor Lateef Jakande built about 30 years ago, are known, are long overdue for maintenance.
Government buildings, even in countries where wood is the mainframe materials of housing construction, use reinforced concrete or brick, thus ensuring they would last even for centuries. With government-owned houses collapsing, where will people turn to for safety?
Someone must be held responsible for the loss of lives and property. Officials responsible for the disaster, even if they are retired, should be asked to account for their actions.
Lagos State Government must not sit idly and pretend that this incident is just another usual occurrence. The integrity of its housing has been called to question. It must swing into action to sanction wrongdoers, ensure it does not recur in future and lavishly compensate those deprived of their lives, safety and property.
It is also time government inspectors made regular checks on houses in the old estates, to ensure they meet safety standards. Most of those houses have become weak over the years. More could collapse if not checked.