Wet Season: Calls for Safer Building Construction in Recent Times
The seasons of downpour exposes the quality of building structures in the country. Envisaging this problem, the Lagos State Government had earlier in the year (April) moved to demolish buildings in the state. The move was to hamper the predictive effect of rain on building structures in the state.
Though the step was taken by the state to save the days ahead, demolishing of these buildings has its share of effect on the public if the government fails to put necessary measures in place. It is pertinent to come up with better approach to resolve this menace aside demolition.
To further validate the problem of building collapse, Leading Experts in a report claimed that over 36,000 buildings were bound to collapse in the state during the raining season. The prediction is again a revelation of the enormous amount of work in construction that needs to be done.
Definitely not so much like the prediction, but the prediction of building collapse was accurate as some series of building collapse were recorded during rainy season in the month of June, July.
Building Collapse in Lagos
On June 29, a three-storey building in Ajegunle, in the Apapa area of Lagos, collapsed but luckily occupants escaped death. They reportedly fled as the foundation began to shake before it collapsed.
According to media report, the developer and the owner of the structure were served notice by the relevant agency but they ignored it and continued with the construction before the collapse.
On July 8, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) recovered one dead body from a three-storey building that collapsed in Lagos Island. The casualty was a five-year-old boy who died as a result of a beam that collapsed on him. According to him, the building had been slated for non-integrity test because of visible cracks on the beam and columns of the building.
On July 21, a building under construction at the Ikorodu area of Lagos Tuesday collapsed killing the owner, identified as Daniel Obasi. Several people allegedly escaped death as construction was suspended at the site due to the Eid-El-Kabir celebration. The collapse was allegedly caused by inadequate time line to allow sand filled land to compact properly before commencement of construction and poor building materials as attributed by neighbours.
Stopping the Menace
To this challenge of safety which has claimed lots of lives in the state, the modern challenges of building collapse must be pinned to the wall corresponding to a heightened and more willful effort to tackle them.
Construction Experts in Lagos have viewed that putting an end to the menace will require a change of attitude from property owners; a lot of competence from building constructors and stronger government intervention.
The Managing Director, Alga Safety Consult, Olayiga Onayiga, lamented the lack of competent workers during building construction and blamed clients who choose cheap labour over quality.
“It all boils down to the clients themselves- the property owner. They don’t hire competent workers most times because they are trying to cut cost. For example, someone building a house in a place like Bagada, Millennium Estate or the swamp in Magodo, the foundation for that kind of area has to be piling.”
“Probably the person that did it, didn’t do a good job; or he did a good job but they did not use the right amount of cement or iron in right standard. So everything still boils down to competence.”
“Most people don’t do intensive fitness. Meanwhile at every stage, you have to do your test, foundation, decking. You need to test the strength of the building. In most cases, they don’t do this. I feel the client themselves have a major cause in this.”
He stressed that clients should engage in proper research to choose competent engineers and for those that would provide requisite supervision for their buildings.
“It only takes a competent engineer to check if this material is substandard or not so the number one thing is competence. If we can get a competent worker, all other factors will be sorted,” Onayiga said.
Quality of Building Soil
The Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Sunday Wusu, noted that the kind of soil where the foundations of a building are erected play a key role in its longevity in and out of the wet season.
“It is possible that the instability of the soil also affects the building. Sometimes, the soil test are not adequate and if they are not adequate, it affects the design. You do your construction in the dry season and then in the raining season, water packs in the soil and before you know it, the building begins to have problems.”
“And in a lot of places, there are no good drainages so water will just pile up under the floor and before you know what happens, the ground will become unstable leading to collapse,” he said.
In addition, the chairman revealed that another major challenge currently affecting the construction industry is the economy.
He said, “The economy is so bad. To build a house now is very expensive. Landlords are also there pushing. So if people want to build now, they want to build with substandard materials.”
“And even the substandard materials- who is monitoring what is coming into the country? SON (Standard Organization of Nigeria) cannot police every market. If you are telling people not to buy substandard materials now, the person may not listen,” Wusu said.
He called on the government have to ensure that they provide adequate empowerment for their building officials to enable them perform their duties without restrain.