Building collapse: Architect advocates diligent enforcement of building code

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An Architect, Mr Amos Alao, has called for the enforcement of the Nigerian Building Code to avert the recurring building collapse in the country.

Alao, the National Secretary, Society of Landscape Architects of Nigeria (SLAN), made the call in an interview with our source on Friday in Lagos.

The landscape expert said it was necessary to go back to the drawing board in order to avert recurring building collapse in the country by enforcing the national building code.

He said: “There have been so many perspectives to building collapse in Nigeria. Some have talked about the structural analysis, architecture or engineering failure, but little is said about the land on which the buildings are standing on.

“We are yet to implement the Nigerian building Code which covers that if you are going to build a high rise building, it is supposed to have a certain percentage of soil volume or capacity to hold it.

“A lot of things are wrong with the Nigerian construction industry, everybody has this fault, from the manufacturers, to the clients, the engineers and the marketers.

“There is a Nigerian building code that needs to be implemented to overhaul the Nigerian construction industry; we need to start from the implementation and enforcement of the building code.

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“The code contains what a building requires, for example escape routes, exit routes, all these parameters are stated in the building code.“

He said the building code should contain the provision of facilities a building requires so that  in emergency cases, disaster managers could quickly rescue victims like in the recent building collapse in Lagos.

“The Federal Ministry of Works and Housing should be charged with the responsibility of implementing and enforcing the Nigerian building code.

“With the building code, the responsibility of every engineer will be clearly outlined in the construction of any building without cross-carpeting responsibilities,” the expert said.

Alao, who also called for the vetting of building materials imported into the country,called for importers of fake building materials to be brought to book.

“Following most building collapse in the country, engineers have always had the bulk of the blame for either structural designs or low quality materials, but it is high time we sanctioned the importers of inferior building materials.

“The engineer purchases iron rods from the market that does not fit the strength specification for the building because its quality was reduced by the marketers.

“It is not the job of the engineer to check how strong the metal is, if he completely trusts the marketers.

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“In most building collapse, the client/owner of the building should be held responsible also, the engineers may complain about the quality of the building materials and the clients insist they go ahead.

“When such buildings collapse, the professionals are always held responsible and the clients are nowhere to be found. Every developer is responsible for everybody on the site.”

The expert also called on builders to adhere to the books when constructing a building and not cutting corners.

“Nigeria can get building construction right with plenty of research, for instance, the oldest storey building in Badagry, we have others also at Calabar and the first suspended floor in Lokoja.

“All of these buildings were erected by Nigerians with the input of the Whites, meaning that it is possible to have good quality buildings in Nigeria.

“Why our buildings presently cannot stand the test of time is largely because of the materials used. For instance, the textbook says use clean water to mix cement, but here in Nigeria our water is not clean.

“When we make use of unclean water to mix cement, we should not expect to get the same strength with cement mixed with clean water.”

According to him, buildings are bound to collapse when most builders apply what is different from what they have read in the textbook.

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