Saturday, 28 November, 2020

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Owerri building Collapse: NIOB seeks urgent investigation, prosecution to deter reoccurrence


The Nigerian Institute of Building NIOB, has called for urgent investigation and prosecution of those involved in the recent Owerri building collapse that caused the wanton destruction of property and loss of lives, in order to deter quackery and negligence on building sites in Nigeria.

It will be recalled that on April 30, 2020, a seven-storey building under construction along Musa Yar’Adua Drive, Owerri, Imo state, collapsed killing several site workers and injuring many others.

Speaking on the collapse at the weekend, National President of NIOB, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, said “Investigation and prosecution of those involved should not be delayed, as justice delayed is justice denied.

“While our sympathies and condolences go to those who lost their loved ones in the tragedy, the Nigerian Institute of Building solicits further cooperation and collaboration amongst built environment professional bodies and other relevant government agencies or organisations to bring to an end this menace of building collapse”.

According to Awobodu, the Owerri building collapse is a clarion call to all ministries charged with physical planning and urban development in Nigeria to extend their strict assessment and vetting of building projects beyond building plan approval, pointing out that building plans and design documents are, to all intents and purposes, just in the design and pre-construction stage of building projects.

“The ministries and agencies responsible for physical planning and urban development should devote greater attention to the practical stage, which is the actual building construction. Any company or those that will handle construction of a building should be thoroughly investigated to ensure that round pegs are inserted in round holes.

“The sensitive building production processes should be managed by the professional builder, who by his or her training and hippocratic oath will not compromise on standards or competence. It really boggles the mind why building collapse has become a recurring decimal in a nation endowed with many trained and licensed professional builders, whose statutory responsibility is to technically manage building production on site to a successful delivery.

“It is unfortunate that people who do not have requisite ability to carry out a task ignore the inherent risk for the tempting, anticipated monetary gains, thereby endangering lives and property. The delicate process of transforming the architectural, structural and services designs and drawings to satisfactory building products requires expertise that professional builders possess.

“When participants in building delivery process abide by their areas of specialisation with a clear understanding of their limitations and refusing to go beyond or exceed the bounds of their training or competence, building owners will definitely get value for their money.

“There must always be a collective intention of consultants on a building project to ensure that those who will manage the building production process are qualified to do so in order to prevent a collapse that could smear the consultants’ reputation.

“The exquisitely designed architecture and professionally designed structures of a building might be subjected to ridicule if the Architect and the Structural Engineer do not insist on quality building production. As advised by the legal aphorism, ‘Equity aids the vigilant and not the indolent’. Most clients would not want to invest wrongly if they are sincerely guided”, NIOB boss said.

To curb incessant collapse of buildings which usually arises from construction errors, Awobodu said building control agencies across the nation should ensure that the registered builder that could be held accountable for quality production is on site. ( There is a subsisting building regulation in Lagos State that supports this approach). He insisted that whenever such an individual is charged and found derelict in his or her duty, the regulatory body, Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria CORBON, will withdraw the person’s practising license, adding that the fear of losing such a license and the accompanying loss of reputation always make the builder to be very cautious.

“Medical students and pharmacy students through years of training graduate to practise in their areas of specialisation. Standard clinics must have qualified Doctors for appropriate diagnosis and treatment of patients. The presence of Pharmacists in many pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria nowadays has greatly reduced the problem of quackery in the drug production, attenuated challenges of fake drugs and wrong dispensation of genuine drugs.

“In a similar way, building students that have been trained in the institutions of higher learning and graduated to pass through rigorous professional development by NIOB and, thereafter, licensed by CORBON should be engaged to manage building production on sites in order to reduce the frequency of building collapse in Nigeria. A truism of nature is that passion develops in a human being that is encouraged to perform his or her special and unique role in the society”, NIOB president noted.

He stated however, that “Investigations conducted on many collapsed buildings in Nigeria revealed that inappropriate management of building production on site has been the major cause. Why? Quacks or impostors, who lack professional competence have usually succeeded in superintending over the very technical and complex process of building production”, Awobodu averred.

Credit: Vanguard

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