Building collapse: Poor workmanship, inadequate consultation blamed
Poor workmanship by contractors, inadequate professional consultation during design and construction stages, sub-standard building materials, illegal conversion, alteration or additions to existing structures, as well as poor facility management practice have been blamed for the high incidence of building collapse in Nigeria.
The frequent incidents of building collapse in the country, especially in the major cities, is a worrisome trend. A research carried out by students of Covenant University shows there have been 54 incidents of building collages in Lagos alone in the last decade.
But Nigeria is not an isolated case in matters of building collapse. Again, faulty facility management practice is not unique to Lagos. Early in July 2017, a block of uncompleted flats in East London made news when the roofs caught fire, causing significant damage to the building. The Grenfell Tower fire was found to be caused by a faulty refrigerator on the fourth floor, and was exacerbated by the substandard external cladding materials used.
Frequently, people confuse artisans with professionals which is why when people want to build houses they simply show their bricklayers the kind of building they like, expecting the bricklayers to replicate such buildings. This is usually done without consulting architects, other building consultants or even facility management professionals who can advise on the best cost-saving and efficient materials to be used during construction which can be easily maintained post occupancy.
The complaints about consultants fee must be checked side-by-side the cost of human lives that are lost when buildings collapse or are engulfed by fire. Professional developers have a responsibility to ensure not just building functionality but structural adequacy. They should do this by engaging consultants, including facility management experts during the design stage.
It is only by so doing this that the housing industry and the hapless members of the public, who are at the receiving end, can avoid the ugly scenes of the recent past. Last month, onlookers watched, dazed, as a 4-storey building crumbled to the ground. Without prior knowledge of a fire safety drill, the few residents who escaped tried to do a head-count to ascertain that all occupants were safe.
This happened at Massey Street in Lagos Island where, at least, eight persons were killed and several others injured as a result of building collapse. Aside from other obvious structural defects, rescue workers at the site observed that the telecoms mast erected close to the building play a significant part in the building’s collapse.
A couple of days earlier, a mother and her baby were reportedly killed when an uncompleted building collapsed in another area of the city. Prior to that, a residential building had collapsed, also in Lagos Island. In March 2016, a six-storey building collapsed in Lekki, leading to the death of more than 30 people. According to reports, the developer had put an additional floor to the building against Lagos State government’s earlier approval.
There are, however, some developers like James Cubitt Developments, Previs Developments and a few others that pay attention to not only safety, but also ease of maintenance post-occupancy.
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