29 June 2014

Nigeria: Experts Lament Delayed Passage of National Building Code

Lagos — The seeming delay in the passage of the National Building Code (NBC) for more than six years since the draft bill was sent to the National Assembly has been described as "worrisome" even as its absence as a regulatory document for the construction industry has equally been fingered as contributing to the spate of building collapses being witnessed across the country.

This was the position of a cross section of experts and stakeholders alike in the built environment who spoke with Daily Independent.

According to the President of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) Babatunde Lasabi the absence of the code is not good for the nation. Its absence he noted, is affecting good governance in respect of the construction sub-sector of the economy.

Lasabi noted that the failure of the NASS to pass into law is to say the least "a disservice to the built environment".

He was quick to point out, that the absence of a building code for the construction has no doubt, affected the operations of the industry, adding that this development country has rubbed off negatively on the performance of the built environment.

He said that the lawmakers should put the interest of the nation first by ensuring the passage of the code if only to sanitise the construction industry.

He appealed to members of the NASS to expedite action on the debate of the code with a view to passing it "for the enhancement of the building industry".

Speaking in similar vein, the President of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) Steve Onu said that the need for the code to see the light of day was stating the obvious, adding that the delay was not only worrisome but discouraging to operators of the construction industry.

According to him, there should be "no grandstanding "as far as the issue of the passage of the NBC was concerned, noting that the delay in passing the code was becoming embarrassing.

He said that the issue of the National Building Code should be put in the front burner by members of the NASS pointing out that for any nation that was desirous of moving forward matters affecting the construction industry should be treated with the utmost attention it deserves.

He expressed regret, that up till now, people were still talking of the code as being a subject of debate in the NASS.He was quick to point out that for such a sensitive sector as the construction industry, it was expedient for the legislators to take the issue of the building code with all the seriousness it requires.

Onu said that the passage of the NBC was long overdue, adding that the delay was akin to "a disservice to the nation". He added that for any serious nation who aspires to greatness, such a sensitive bill should have been passed into law before now.

He wondered why the legislators were foot dragging on a very important bill as the NBC, adding that unless there is more to it, it should have gone beyond the third reading and ready for the committee of the whole house.

The NITP helmsman said that now was the time for all the seven professional bodies in the built environment to come together and forge a common front for the purpose of ensuring that the draft NBC bill was passed by the NASS.

He lamented a situation whereby the draft bill which was sent to the NASS over five years ago was yet to pass the second reading stage, adding that this development does not augur well for the nation.

He made a passionate appeal to members of the National Assembly to take another look in the direction if the draft bill and accelerate action on its passage.

A Charted engineer, Emmanuel Imafidon said that the need to expedite action on the bill can not be overemphasised pointing out, that in developed climes, such an important bill would have been given top priority in the legislature, adding that with the passage of the "all-important document" sanity would return to the construction industry.

He said that the absence of the NBC could be a major factor that has contributed to the incessant collapse of buildings across the country, adding that unless the issue of the NBC was debated and passed by the legislators, a lot of damage would continue to be done to the building industry.

The Immediate Past President of the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS) Olushola Atillola opined that the issue had been polarized due to the various interests that have sprung up in the debate.

According to him, the relevance of the code to the construction industry cannot be quantified, so much that the lawmakers should not toy with the idea of its passage.

He said that all hands must be on deck in ensuring that the bill was brought to the centre stage by the member of the NASS in order to speed up its passage "for the glory of the construction industry'.

He wondered why the bill has continued to suffer serious setback in the house, adding that all the presidents of the professional bodies in the built environment should team up and resent a common front towards fighting the cause.

Atilola noted that the code when in place would in no small way assist in reducing incidence of collapses being witnessed all over the country. He added that the legislators should consider the plight of the ordinary Nigerian in bringing the issue to the fore.

The former president said that in advanced countries of the world, the construction industry has a standard regulatory instrument which acts as a guide for operators of the sector. He added that in line with this development, the legislature should be proactive in enacting laws that impact positively on the lives of the people.

He expressed optimism, that before the end of the present legislature, the National Building Code would se the light of day.

Not done yet, he suggested the convocation of a meeting of all the stakeholders in the built environment with the sole aim of finding out the reason behind the delay by the NASS in bringing the issue of the NBC to the front burner.

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