Building collapse has been a recurring decimal in most Nigerian cities over time. The situation has not only posed
serious threats to life of house occupants in some areas across the country but also a source of serious concern to the authorities. Indeed, many Nigerians have lost their lives through such collapsed buildings while authorities spend whooping sums in the process for rescue measures and hospital treatments of the injured.
Recent cases in Itaye community in Lagos State and Ibadan, the Oyo capital, where many lives were trapped in the debris of the collapsed buildings, are two typical cases in the series.
While these were going on, the authorities have endeavoured to set up committees to look into the ‘immediate and remote causes of such unfortunate and lifethreatening incidents. On their part, the Nigerian Society of Engineers and other stakeholders have not relented in their efforts in getting their members to conform with the best ethical standards and international best practices in their chosen field.
In the course of this, fingers have been pointed at different areas and the buck passed to different sectors. While building Engineers attribute cases of collapsed building to the use of ‘untrained hands’ by house owners, contrac- tors -trained and untrained blame the situation on sub-standard building materials.
Blame has also been pushed to house owners who are said to be in the habit of moderating on the quantity and quality of materials to be used rather than giving contractors the free hand in the mix. Another factor to consider for collapsed building is improper foundation not strong enough to support the building. It is a known fact to even non-professionals that the strength of reinforced concrete depends on the proportion of cement, sand, stones and rods as building components.
It is also a known fact that in many cases, contractors, site engineers and supervi- sors either do not use the needed quality and specified sizes of rods, or reduce the number and sizes of pillars to be constructed which would adequately carry the load of the building.
These reduction in the quality of materials and pillars could jeopardize the strength of the building and also affect the life-span of such structures. One other factor that affects the durability of building is the nature of soil in a given environment. This is an important aspect that has not been taken seriously when considering the construction of a building as it would determine the scope of foundation for a building.
To mitigate this, experts have advised that there should always be structural analysis of building designs before building any structure. The importance of structural analysis is to deter- mine the weight of such building and recom- mend specific number and size of pillars and beams required for the weight of the building. Structural analysis would also specify the correct positions of pillars as well as quantity and size of rods to be used.
Government town planning officials have not also helped matters as they, oftentimes, collude with fraudulent property owners to defraud government by issuing questionable building approvals, and prefer to look the other way when these buildings are under construction. It is, therefore, the position of Weekend Pioneer that to end the incidents of collapsed buildings, stakeholders in the building subsector such as the Nigerian Institute of building (NIB) Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), Nigeria Institute of Architects (NIA), Council of Registered Engi- neers of Nigeria (COREN), Architects Regis- tration Council of Nigeria (ARCON) should resolve to henceforth monitor activities in this sector with a view to correcting the anomalies in buildings.
Most importantly, there should be a Presi- dential roundtable discussion on the construc- tion industry. The time is now to do something to halt this life-consuming menace because the truth remains that whether the problem is caused by the use of trained or untrained hands and non-application of quality materials, house collapse has been a serious issue and monu- mental shame to Nigeria and Nigeria