THEWILL EDITORIAL: The collapse of the Ikoyi building

The recent collapse of a 21-story building under construction in Ikoyi, Lagos, is a huge tragedy and a sad commentary on our national life. More than 30 people have been confirmed dead and many injured in the horrific incident that trapped workers and visitors to the site. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu expressed his displeasure and also ordered an investigation into the incident.

Pending the outcome of the investigative panel, we unequivocally condemn the frequent building collapses for which Lagos has become famous. The Ikoyi tragedy apparently overshadowed the case of a two-story apartment building that failed on the same date, November 1, in the Lekki area of ​​the state. The building, which was also under construction, reportedly collapsed after that night’s downpour.

Previously, the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) confirmed the partial collapse of a three-story structure in Aguda, Surulere region, on October 25, 2021, which was attributed to the owner’s wrongdoing. The Director General of LASBCA, Arc. Gbolahan Oki, revealed that the owner carried out illegal renovations and added attachments to the building without resorting to the agency.

In July 2021, a three-story building on Church Street on Lagos Island partially collapsed overnight as residents slept. LASBCA indicated that the structural failure of part of the beam carrying a water tank was responsible for the incident. In the same month, a two-story building under construction in the community of Isawo in Ikorodu described as an attachment, collapsed and killed the owner

According to the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), as many as 43 buildings under construction collapsed in Nigeria in 2019 and many lives were lost in the incidents. NIOB National Chairman Kunle Awobodu said 17 of the cases were recorded in Lagos alone. The rest happened in other parts of the country.

As we condemn this horrific incident across the country, the frequency with which buildings collapse in Lagos, the country’s trade hub, is cause for concern. The fact that virtually all of the cases have been attributed to abuse of process and the use of substandard materials suggests that intransigence has become common in the industry. The act of willful negligence and the collusion of regulatory authorities cannot be excluded.

Landowners, contractors, builders and other professionals are unlikely to engage in the construction of buildings with impunity for wrongdoing, at the cost of human lives and human resources.

This development calls into question the relevance of the Cement Quality Policy introduced by the Standards Organizations of Nigeria (SON) in 2014 under the leadership of Dr Joseph Odumodu, former Director General, to curb the threat of building collapse through the country.

The majority of stakeholders in the public hearing argued that “disrespect of professional ethics, wrong combination of materials, poor supervision, corruption” were responsible for the collapse of the building. They called for decisive enforcement and oversight of the National Building Code. But SON caught on and “embraced” the controversial cement quality policy, neglecting the priority that should have been given to existing rules.

The National Building Code, created in 2006, was initiated by the National Housing and Urban Development Council to address professional and regulatory gaps in the building industry. To achieve these laudable goals, state governments were required to incorporate the provisions of the Code into their local laws, especially those relating to design, construction, and maintenance (post-construction), and to effectively monitor implementation. implementation of the Code.

For its part, Lagos introduced the state building code and regulation with a statutory agency and an instrument defining minimum requirements for the design, construction and maintenance of buildings. It is evident that compliance with the requirements of the current Building Code has been violated. Failure to decisively enforce and comply with the building control code or law has been largely responsible for various construction failures in the state.

We call on Lagos and other states to ensure strict adherence to national and national building codes. The government should ensure strict enforcement of builders’ liability insurance / building under construction insurance. This part of the compulsory insurance scheme launched in 2003 requires that every owner or contractor of any building under construction of more than two floors, must take out an insurance policy to cover liability against construction risks caused by negligence of the building. ‘contractor, owner, servants, agents, consultants who could result in death, bodily injury or property damage to workers or the public.

Insurance must be taken out from the construction phase. The aim is to protect the public against construction risks which can be caused by negligence. The insurance must also cover the collapse of the building.

The Lagos State government must ensure a proper investigation into the incident and ensure that all those convicted, regardless of their senior level, are brought to justice.