In view of the high cases of building collapse in the country, the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria has called for a total overhaul of the entire building construction process including a review of building designs.
The President of ARCON, Mr Dipo Ajayi, stated that at the rate of building collapse, professionals in the building industry usually put the blame on each other, instead of tackling the cause of the collapse.
According to him, everyone should be blamed for the building collapse; from the professionals in the building and approval industry to the clients who are the occupants of that building.
Ajayi explained that professionals, the government and occupants of a building had roles to play in the successful design, erection and use of the structure.
He said, “Building collapse has also been observed to cut across the different categories of building. Out of the building categories, the private buildings, also known as the residential buildings, are the most affected.
“The increase in the rate of building collapse despite the advancement of technology calls for a review of the building design process, construction process and the post-construction process.”
He stated that research had shown that about 159 buildings had collapsed between 1974 and 2012 and over 798 lives lost during the period.
Ajayi said professionals in the building industry had summarised the major causes of building collapse as the attitude of the public, professional bodies and governments; the absence of soil test before construction; structural designs and details that could sometimes be defective.
Others, he said, were lack of proper planning; absence of co-ordination between professional bodies and town planning authorities; lack of adherence to specifications by contractors; use of unqualified and unskilled personnel; poor or bad construction practices; use of substandard building materials and inadequate enforcement of existing laws.
He stated that one of the ways towards eradicating building collapse in the country would be for activities necessary for the realisation of efficient structures to take place in the conceptual and design stage, construction-supervision stage and post construction service stage.
Ajayi explained that in view of the findings on building collapse, it had become necessary for policymakers to make sure that specifications were thoroughly followed by contractors.
He said, “The town planning authorities should maintain and have adequate and competent professionals in the building industry and provide necessary training for design approval. In other words, only architects and engineers should be allowed to approve the relevant drawings in the approval department.
“A building collapse prevention unit as a department in the existing town planning authority in Nigeria should be set up. It should be equipped with the necessary tools and information. This will enable it to identify houses with weak structures liable to collapse or which have reached a level of collapse and recommend them for demolition, and make provision for the immediate resettlement of the inhabitants.
“All professional bodies associated with the building industries in Nigeria such as Council for the Registration of Engineers, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Nigerian Institute of Builders, Town Planning Registration Council, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, Nigerian Institute of Architects and the Architect Registration Council of Nigeria, among others, should be encouraged to research on the causes of building failure.”
He said the public must also be willing to alert the government to buildings suspected to be a risk to the lives of the people within their neighbourhood.