Nigeria: NIOB Blames Quacks for Collapse of Uncompleted Hotel in Owerri

19 May 2020

The Nigeria Institute of Building (NIOB) has called for immediate investigation of the cause of the collapse of a seven-storey hotel building under construction in Owerri, Imo State and to prosecute those responsible for the disaster.

The collapse of the uncompleted building, located on Musa Yar' Adua Road, New Owerri, was an unfortunate occurrence, according to the National President of NIOB, Builder Kunle Awobodu, in a statement.

He said, "On the latest collapsed building in Owerri, those who caused the wanton destruction of property and loss of lives should be prosecuted in order to deter quackery and negligence on building sites in Nigeria. Investigation and prosecution should not be delayed. Justice delayed is justice denied."

He appealed for collaboration among professionals in the building and construction industry and with other relevant government agencies or organisations to bring to an end this menace of building collapse.

Awobodu said members of the Nigerian Institute of Building, Imo State Chapter and those of other professional bodies in the built environment stormed the collapsed building site on post mortem analysis, which could be equated to medicine after death.

He said, "Investigations conducted on many collapsed buildings in Nigeria revealed that inappropriate management of building production on site has been the major cause. Why? Quacks or impostors, who lacked professional competence, have usually succeeded in superintending over the very technical and complex process of building production."

The ministries and agencies responsible for physical planning and urban development, he said should devote greater attention to the practical stage, which is the actual building construction. "Any company or those that will handle construction of a building should be thoroughly investigated to ensure that round pegs are inserted in round holes. The sensitive building production processes should be managed by the Professional Builder, who by his or her training and Hippocratic Oath will not compromise on standards or competence.

"It really boggles the mind why building collapse has become a recurring decimal in a nation endowed with many trained and licensed Professional Builders, whose statutory responsibility is to technically manage building production on site to a successful delivery.

"It is unfortunate that people who do not have requisite ability to carry out a task ignore the inherent risk for the tempting, anticipated monetary gains, thereby endangering lives and property.

"The delicate process of transforming the architectural, structural and services designs and drawings to satisfactory building products requires expertise that Professional Builders possess."

He said when participants in building delivery process abide by their areas of specialisation with a clear understanding of their limitations and refusing to go beyond or exceed the bounds of their training or competence, building owners will definitely get value for their money.

According to him, "There must always be a collective intention of Consultants on a building project to ensure that those who will manage the building production process are qualified to do so in order to prevent a collapse that could smear the Consultants' reputation. The exquisitely designed architecture and professionally designed structures of a building might be subjected to ridicule if the Architect and the Structural Engineer do not insist on quality building production. As advised by the legal aphorism, "Equity aids the vigilant and not the indolent." Most clients would not want to invest wrongly if they are sincerely guided.

"To curb the incessant collapse of buildings which usually arises from construction errors, building control agencies across the nation should ensure that the Registered Builder that could be held accountable for quality production is on site. (There is a subsisting building regulation in Lagos State that supports this approach). Whenever such an individual is charged and found derelict in his or her duty, the regulatory body, Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON) will withdraw the person's practising license. The fear of losing such a license and the accompanying loss of reputation always make the Builder to be very cautious."

He said, "Medical students and pharmacy students through years of training graduate to practise in their areas of specialisation. Standard clinics must have qualified Doctors for appropriate diagnosis and treatment of patients. The presence of Pharmacists in many pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria nowadays has greatly reduced the problem of quackery in the drug production, attenuated challenges of fake drugs and wrong dispensation of genuine drugs.

"In a similar way, building students that have been trained in the institutions of higher learning and graduated to pass through rigorous professional development in NIOB and, thereafter, licensed by CORBON should be engaged to manage building production on sites in order to reduce the frequency of building collapse in Nigeria. A truism of nature is that passion develops in a human being that is encouraged to perform his or her special and unique role in the society."

He said during the nation-wide Builders' Day held last week, members of the Nigerian Institute of Building, Imo State Chapter, led by their Chairman, Builder Collins Nwoko embarked on a road-show round Owerri, sensitising the public on the need to engage professional builders in order to prevent building collapse.

"Coincidentally, March 13, 2020 marked the first anniversary of the calamitous 5-storey building collapse at Ita- Faaji, Lagos Island.

He said at a rally on that Builders' Day, the General Manager of Owerri Capital Development Authority, Mr. Innocent Ikpamezie, an Engineer, addressed NIOB members, promising to prevent reoccurrence of building collapse in Imo State by ensuring prospective developers engage professional builders to manage building production process on their sites," Awobodu said.

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