Just yesterday evening, a six-storey building collapsed in Maryland. Unlike some previous incidents, there were no lives lost. The Don de Dieu Plaza, which the building was called stood at 11, Aderibigbe Street, off Ikorodu Road and housed over ten companies. According to reports, there were rumblings and noises within the structure of the building and everybody inside were evacuated. Almost three hours after, the building came down.
According to a lady, who simply identified herself as Sola, the danger signs have been noticed ever since by occupants and regular visitors to the building. “The building just fine for outside. Inside the place dey terrible. The step (staircases) dey shake and e don even dey crack for some places,” she revealed. She went ahead to say that the relevant authorities had been informed but nothing was done about the situation. “We don complain tire, but dem no do anything about am.”
This is not an unfamiliar story. It is not even about Lagos. It is a problem that recurs all over the country. There was a time when a four-storey building which was still under construction collapsed on those taking refuge under it from a heavy downpour. Sometime back in Kano, a storey building with some Islamic scholars inside collapsed. In the Federal Capital Territory, a storey building behind the FCT Police Command collapsed killing about 14 people that were working within it at the time.
It is a fairly common occurrence from to time, and let’s face it: buildings will keep collapsing. Most site Engineers have discarded usage of proper materials and failure analysis and now use building materials with low quality.
“This is obvious even to a layman. If you go around the city and take a critical look at the foundations and the materials being used for a new building, it leaves a lot to be desired. The sad part is that the Government and regulatory bodies have not taken any concrete measure to curtail the depressing trend. After the initial knee jerk reaction to news of the building collapse, the most important questions –social, moral and ethical – are left unanswered. At the end of the day, lessons are not learnt and the blatant ignorance of rules, regulations and ethics guiding the building industry abounds. Any time a building falls to the ground, it is due to ignorance of the owner, gross professional negligence on the part of the builder and government to make and implement strict building laws,” Akeem Audu, one f the many people on the scene, said.
“Like we always say, the disasters we suffer are the ones we create. There has not been one earthquake incident recorded in the history of Nigeria. And one shudders to think how buildings would crumble if they were. The collapse of buildings can be controlled if each building process is carried out by qualified Architects, Engineers, Foremen, etc. In addition, qualified Town Planners should always inspect and approve building plan appropriately. Then of course the Government should work with Engineering bodies like COREN, CORBON, NSE, etc to promulgate a code of practice that is feasible and appropriate for Nigeria and Nigerians. Even the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) is not left out. They have a mandate to make sure substandard materials are not sold in the market. If everybody plays their part, the chances of us waking up submerged by a collapsed building will be very slim,” Audu, a building engineer, continued.