By Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) yesterday blamed the deployment of non-professionals as one of the main causes of the incessant building collapses throughout the country.
In a communiqué at the end of the meeting of presidents of some regulatory and professional bodies in the built environment held in Abuja, the council also fingered the use of substandard materials for the problems in the sector.
A number of Nigerians have lost their lives while others have been maimed for life due to the increasing cases of building collapses in the country, especially in Lagos, the country’s former federal capital.
The President of COREN, Ali Rabiu, who read the resolutions of the organisation, stated that the domestication of the national building code has also contributed to the challenge.
“The use of non-professionals who have no capacity, in projects, non-verification of building design as construction mostly does not follow the strict procedures and non-legislation as well as enforcement of the National Building Code (NBC) by the National Assembly,” it said, were the culprits in the growing social problem.
In addition, it stated that the disparity between the design and construction in Nigeria’s physical planning as well as the actions or non-actions of the Development Control Officers (DCOs) largely contribute to the collapse of buildings in Nigeria. “They should be held responsible for most of the collapses,” Rabiu stated.
Furthermore, COREN listed one of the reasons for building collapses as ignorance, negligence, greed and corruption, abuse in the usage of buildings as well as presence of quacks in the built environment.
As part of its recommendations, COREN said there was the need for a law on enforcement and compliance of the approved national building code by the National Assembly.
“This must be strictly complied with in the built environment. All state governments are advised to domesticate the codes. The Forum of Regulatory Bodies in the Built Environment (FORBEN) should drive the bill.
“For implementation and enforcement, it is recommended that the government should set up a construction court to handle cases of misconduct. Education of the populace is necessary. Advocacy, enlightenment of the public and continuous engagement of government should be pursued particularly by associations in the built environment.
“There is unjustifiable over-concentration of the training of high-level manpower without a corresponding emphasis on the lower level, hence we must make concerted efforts to substantially increase the production of qualified craftsmen, skilled workers, technician etc through the resuscitation and establishment of crafts technical schools across the country,” the industry’s regulator stated.
Stressing that the professionals in the built environment must work together, COREN added that there should be respect for the responsibility of each professional while working together.
“It is recommended that professionals must practice in their areas of core competence and experience, to avoid delving into other areas which is tantamount to quackery.
“Government should liaise with regulatory bodies in the built environment to set up a committee for the integrity tests of buildings/structures which have been constructed for some time now. Also, it needs to introduce functionality tests for buildings from two storeys upward,” COREN said.
According to the regulator, desk officers at the development control offices, who have the responsibility of approving designs, must be qualified and must engage the services of qualified consultants.
COREN also noted that there should be a mechanism to ensure that only registered professionals are engaged by clients and stressed the need for the enforcement against the use of standard materials.
In addition, it stated that there was the need for collaboration of all the professionals to collectively visit construction sites as a team to liaise with the monitoring teams from other regulatory bodies.