Building collapse incents have become a recurring issue in major cities across Nigeria. According to the Building Collapse Prevention Guild in Nigeria, Lagos State alone has recorded 115 building collapse incidents in the last ten years. It is a major concern for both the federal and state governments of the country. Overall, there has been a total of 271 cases of collapsed buildings in the last ten years in Nigeria. The president of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) and vice chancellor of Plateau State University, Yohana Izam, discussed this issue with the media.
According to him, building collapses in Nigeria are unarguably a multi-disciplinary malady with contributions from poor design and unprofessional practices, substandard materials and weak regulatory frameworks guiding the activities of the construction industry. He said that industry operators have come to appreciate the unique nature of procurement of construction projects. The factory is an open site, work is done in stages and the collaboration of distinct professional actors is always required to achieve a successful project delivery.
Builders have become the weakest link in construction.
However, the builder, who is one of the professional actors and the most critical in terms of providing production management expertise, has become the weakest link in the country’s building production value chain. In other words, when all other professionals have done their job and contributed to the progress of a project, the need for a competent builder disappears. For instance, a building that has enjoyed the planning and design inputs of architects and engineers unfortunately always ends up in the hands of quacks who have no training in building technology and management.
When asked how NIOB, the over-50-year-old recognized training arm of the profession, is tackling this problem, Izam said that the organization has continued to build the capacity of its members through continuous development programs that lead to certification as professional builders by the Council of Registered Builders in Nigeria. He said that the institute will continue to promote excellence in the knowledge and skills of its members and be at the forefront of the advocacy for the professionalization of the building industry in Nigeria.
NIOB blueprint promotes building with integrity.
Speaking on the incident that brought about the recognition of “Builders Day,” the vice chancellor said the collapse of a five-story residential building at 63, Massey Street, lta-Faaji, Lagos Island, on March 13, 2019 made the institute do so to showcase building integrity practices to defeat building collapses. He said that the NIOB blueprint is about promoting “Building with Integrity,” a paradigm shift from experiencing collapse to integrity. The objective is to create awareness of the need for stakeholders to sustain the development of frameworks and regulations for building process control and urban development practices as a prerequisite for building with integrity.
Additionally, innovative building control should exceed cosmetic enforcement of codes and regulations. Instead, it must distinguish and enforce the roles of professional actors in building project delivery. As regards this, Izam said that it has to be comprehensive by attending to the needs of the building project life cycle to create a system that sustains integrity in the planning, design, construction, occupancy and post-occupancy phases. He also speaks on the building environment in the country.
Environment the worst regulated in Nigeria, he says.
Due to the aggregated nature of the industry, the importance of regulations in creating sustainable frameworks of collaborations cannot be overemphasized. For Nigeria’s construction sector to be solid, the issue of regulations and standards must be streamlined from project planning to design, project execution to occupancy and to post-occupancy phases. The absence of baseline regulations such as the National Building Code is indeed a monumental scandal, according to Izam. He said that there must always be in existence virile physical planning laws to control development while building regulations, as in the UK or Codes as in the US, deal with key issues of standards.