By Dada Jackson
Just a few days ago, a building under construction went down at First Avenue, in the highbrow Banana Island, claiming one life and several people sustaining injuries.
Nobody ever thought that a building under construction in such an elitist environment could come down considering the caliber of people living in that place.
A major factor that was said to be responsible for the collapse was that a truck ‘ran into it’.
However, in a statement by the Deputy Director (Public Affairs Unit) in the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mukaila Sanusi, the State Government has commenced an investigation to ascertain the factor/s responsible for the collapse.
The incessant building collapse being witnessed across the country, especially in the Centre of Excellence, Lagos State has continued to draw flak from professionals and concerned stakeholders in the built environment.
On February 12,,2023, a three-storey building under construction, collapsed at Yaba claiming four lives.
The building was said to have partially collapsed sometime in 2021 but construction work was said to have continued despite the owner being served a ‘Stop Work Order’ by the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA).
It is quite disheartening and disturbing that most developers in the state have continued to treat with abject levity and outright defiance of orders from the regulatory agency concerning structures that are defective or not fit for habitation.
The last collapse that happened at First Avenue on Banana Island, was the sixth since the unfortunate incident of a 21-storey building that collapsed on November 1, 2021 at Gerrard Road, Ikoyi which claimed over 45 lives.
The recent collapse on Banana Island has been described by some professionals and concerned stakeholders who spoke to Daily Independent as ‘one incident too many’.
A former President of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Mr. Chucks Omeife said it was gradually becoming a recurring decimal and a national embarrassment.
His words: I am tired of talking every now and then on the issue of building collapse. Let me say without mincing words, that the reason why we are continually witnessing the incessant collapse of buildings in the state cannot be mentioned without examining the weight of sanctions being meted out on defaulters. To be honest with you, the sanctions being meted on owners of collapsed buildings in the state, to say the least, “is a slap on the wrist”.
He wondered why developers would only have the land on which the collapse happened forfeited to the state government and an insignificant amount doled out as a fine. He was quick to add, that this can never serve as a deterrent.
A Chartered Engineer, Engr. Patrick Adewale said that the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu should rejig the total architecture called LASBCA.
According to him, the agency has in the last few months, failed to perform ‘with utmost responsibility, its core mandate of properly regulating the construction process.
He said that a situation where officials of the agency would serve a developer a ‘Stop Work Order’ and such an individual would still go ahead with construction, smacks of impunity.
Adewale pointed out that the owner of the collapsed building at Yaba (who has since been arrested and handed over to RRS as claimed by the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr.Idris’ Salako) was said to have been served a ‘Stop Work Order’ twice but still went ahead with the construction of the three-storey building which eventually came down.
His words: Some Developers have devised means of circumventing orders of personnel of LASBCA hence what we witnessed and perhaps, may likely continue to witness concerning the incessant collapse of buildings is that Mr. Governor should beam his searchlights on the activities of the agency. I recommended a total overhaul of that architecture called LASBCA if we are serious in our quest to tackle the menace of incessant building collapse being witnessed in the state.
The President of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Olayemi Shonubi said that it was high time that owners of collapsed structures involving the loss of lives should be made to face the death penalty ‘to serve as a deterrent for future occurrence.
According to him, it is highly embarrassing to professionals in the built environment for buildings ‘to continue to collapse like pack of cards’ and no severe or stiff penalties ate put in place to check these ugly incidents.
In his own submission, a former President of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Mr. Emmanuel Wike pointed out that the issue of building collapse across the country has continued to befuddle professionals in the construction industry.
He said that it was regrettable that for over two decades now, the problem of HSS continued to escalate instead of abating. He was quick to add that a National Summit should be convened by presidents of the seven professional bodies in the built environment ‘with a view to finding a lasting solution to this worrisome development.
Wike advocated severe sanctions yo owners of collapsed buildings in order to mitigate future occurrences.
By so doing, he said, “Perhaps, sanity might return to the construction industry”.
A facility maintenance engineer, Engr. Afolabi Adedeji, said that building collapse in Lagos State should be treated with all the seriousness it deserves.
According to him, the governor should complement the efforts of the personnel of LASBCA by setting up a Special Task Force (STF) to monitor the activities of the officials of the agency “with a view to identifying the bad eggs amongst them who may be easily compromised”.
His words: It is not unusual to find bad eggs in such a sensitive agency, more so, as these officials daily come in contact with very powerful and influential individuals who is ready to bribe their way in order to circumvent the due process unmindful of the consequences thereafter.
Adedeji opined, that in addition to forfeiting the land on which the structure collapses, the government should go a step further by prosecuting developers that are found culpable in order to serve as a deterrent to others.
He appealed to Lagosians to assist the government in monitoring ongoing development in the state as officials of LASBCA seem to be overwhelmed with various construction sites springing up in the state.(Independent)