Engineers, experts bemoan high rate of building collapse in Nigeria

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Engineers, experts bemoan high rate of building collapse in Nigeria
  • Lagos takes lead as building collapse increases in Nigeria
  • Experts, Engineers give reasons for the ugly development
  • Sanwo-Olu, NIA, others proffer solutions

Experts, analysts and well meaning Nigerians are currently scratching their heads and looking for a solution to the recent upsurge in building collapse in the country.

According to recent statistics release by Building Collapse Prevention Guild, BCPG, 62 buildings collapsed, either fully or partially, in 2022.

The immediate past President of BCPG, Engr. Eddy Atumonyogo, who disclosed in his speech at the Guild’s Annual General Meeting, AGM held virtually said “the Guild still has a lot of work to do in persuading the various governments to collaborate with it in monitoring construction activities to ensure best practices as well as enlightening the investing public on the need to engage competent professionals to handle their developments.

“Despite all the efforts in year 2022, there were still a total of 62 collapse of buildings, either partially or fully.

“A critical look shows that 23 states had incidence of partial or full collapse of buildings, with Lagos State topping the chart with 20 incidences.”

However, while the Guild continues to wait for the collaboration of governments at various levels, the incidents to increase at geometric proportion.

Scene of one of the collapsed buildings

In any case, despite leading in the number of building collapse in Nigeria, another building reportedly collapsed on April 23, 2023.

This is coming barely 24 hours after the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu inspected and ordered the demolition of some buildings in Banana Island over defective structures, another three-storey building under construction collapsed at Ladipo Oluwole Street, GRA, Apapa of the state.

It was gathered that the building caved in following a thunder strike during the early morning downpour in Lagos.

According to an eye witness, all the workers at the site of the collapsed building had embarked on Sallah break, reason no one was involved in the incident.

On September 1, 2023, a bungalow collapsed in Enugu state, killing not less four siblings inside the building.

According to the Police Command in the state, it has on September 2, 2023 cordoned off the site of the collapsed building which happened at Mgbemena axis of Coal Camp within Enugu metropolis.

In a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer of the Command, DSP Daniel Ndukwe, on Saturday in Enugu, the incident happened at the early hours of September 1.

“On Sept. 1 at about 7:40 pm, a bungalow situated in a valley at 1B Umeh Agric Quarters, Mgbemene, Coal Camp, Enugu, collapsed, trapping its occupants, among whom are six children, who are siblings.

“Two of them were rescued alive, while the lifeless bodies of four others were recovered, taken to the hospital and were confirmed dead by doctors on duty.

“Their corpses have been deposited in the mortuary for preservation,” Ndukwe said.

According to Mr. Ndukwe, the police had contacted and invited the Enugu State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) for necessary disaster management actions.

This is coming less than three months after a similar incident happened in the state.

On June 19, 2023 a two-storey building collapsed in Ifo Layout, Abakpa Nike Enugu with a woman believed to be trapped in the rubble.

One of the survivors, who simply identified himself as Ben, told news men the incident occurred around 9pm after they heard cracks in the building and rushed out of the house.

According to the survivor, a lot of persons came out alive but they were yet to ascertain if anyone was trapped in the building.

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Explaining further, he said, “We started hearing the cracking sounds around 9pm on Sunday when some of us had already gone to bed.  I came out to check what was wrong. I also called the attention of another neighbour, equally was coming out of the building after hearing the sounds.

“Already, almost everyone in the building had heard the sounds and rushed downstairs. It was then that some of started shouting so that those still sleeping would wake up and come out.

“As God would have it, when nit seemed that everyone was out of the building, the house started falling. It was like a movie. It happened just about 10 minutes after we raised the alarm”.

Another resident who gave his name as  Dr Fredrick Ilo, whose house the survivors slept, told newsmen that none of the survivors went out with any valuable.

“They did not bring out any property. I don’t think anyone is there. There are six families in the building. What I noticed in that area is that developers did not give room for drainage.

“The place is usually flooded. If it is possible for the government to intervene and ensure that there is proper drainage in that area, it will help the area a lot”, Ilo said.

Another resident said: “We are expecting SEMA to come with payloader so we can start excavating. We have also made arrangements for our own excavator.

“A woman said she has not seen one of her visitors but it has not been confirmed that anyone is trapped.

“The woman said she has called the family of the lady who came to visit her and they said the lady has not come back. She did not raise this alarm until now, everybody is surprised that she is saying it now. All the people that came out of the building are staying with neighbours around.”

On August 24, 2023, two persons were confirmed dead, three trapped and thirty seven persons rescued when a building collapsed at Lagos street, Garki village of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

According to the The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) spokesperson Nkechi Isa who confirmed the incident, “the two-storey building which serves both residential and commercial purposes collapsed on Wednesday night. 37 persons were rescued alive, while 2 others were fatally injured.”

In July, 2023, a four-storey building also collapsed in the Life Camp area of the city with many wounded. It happened while workers were on the construction site in the Dape Area near the Berger Clinic.

Anambra state also had its own share of the ugly incident as on September 3, 2023 another three storey building collapsed in Nnewi, Anambra state.

According to report, the incident happened at Egbu Umuenem, in Otolo Nnewi community, in the Nnewi North Local Government Area of  the State.

WITHIN NIGERIA gathered that the building collapsed around 1am on Sunday while the workers were getting ready to start plastering work on the structures.

Investigations showed that a father and two of his children, who were said to be among those working on the building, were instantly killed in the incident, while others sustained varying degrees of injuries.

According to an eyewitness some other people who were also trapped in the rubbles were later rescued and rushed to a hospital in Nnewi.

“The building came down around 1am this morning (Sunday). Three people, a man and his two sons, who were also supposed to be part of those to work on the site died in the incident. They came from the Nimo community and were sleeping over to begin their work early in the morning before the incident happened,” an eyewitness said.

Some officials of the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, Anambra State chapter, led by the Chairman, Victor Meju and the Transition Committee Chairman of Nnewi North LGA, Chris Obiora, had visited the scene of the incident.

On July 16, a storey building reportedly collapsed in Ogijo, Sagamu local government area of Ogun state.

No casualty was, however, recorded. It was gathered that the uncompleted one-storey building collapsed on around 7 am.

Eyewitnesses told news men that the structure located around PZ Estate, Onijagun, went down with no initial sign.

The building, despite being uncompleted, was formerly occupied by some commercial motorcycle riders who were later sent away for posing threats to the community.

“The building has been up to the roofing level for over 10 years. It used to be occupied by some Hausa Okada riders, but they were sent away from the place by the community, if not we might have recorded not less than 10 deaths and lots of bikes damaged,” the source said.

While the cause of building collapse cannot be verified yet, it may be connected with the weakness of the structure having been abandoned for long.

The incident of building collapse also spread its sorrows to Rivers state as a storey building that is under construction collapsed on June 29, 2023.

According to report, the ugly incident happened in Obio/Akpor local government area of the state, injuring four persons.

The structure is said to be erected for the hospitality business, more like a sit-out bar around the Okilton junction on Ada-George Road.

It was gathered that apart from the four persons said to have sustained varying degrees of injury, no life was lost in the incident.

Reacting to the incident, Rivers State Government said it will bring to book all those whose actions contributed to the collapse of the building.

The Commissioner for Special Project, Emeka Woke, stated this after his visit to the site of the collapsed building and the hospital where the four survivors are receiving treatment.

He said a proper probe will be instituted to ascertain the immediate and remote cause of the collapse.

Meanwhile, the architect who developed the building plan and was also supervising the project, Promise Chizi, said the incident is shocking to him.

While  maintaining his innocence, he insisted that there was no compromise of any kind.

Religious buildings were also not spared in the destruction spree as on August 12, 2023, seven people were killed when part of a mosque filled with hundreds of worshippers collapsed in Nigeria’s northern city of Zaria, in Kaduna state, with several others injured, officials said.

The incident occurred as hundreds of faithful observed afternoon prayers on Friday at the city’s central mosque, Zaria Emirate Council spokesman Abdullahi Kwarbai said.

“Four bodies were found initially, and then three others were found after the rescue team searched the collapsed mosque,” he said.

State officials said the mosque was constructed in the 1830s.

Twenty-three people were sent to hospital, the state Emergency Management Agency said.

Kaduna state Governor Uba Sani has ordered an immediate investigation into the disaster and promised to assist those affected by the “heartbreaking incident”.

Experts give reasons for the collapse

In a chat with our reporter, the CEO of Build Right Nig. Engr. Samuel Eze stated that the situation is becoming alarming.

Explaining what he called the Anatomy of Building Collapse
Buildings collapse the Architect gave reasons for building collapse as poor workmanship.

Stressing further, Eng. Eze said that “inadequate skills, lack of attention to detail, and shortcuts in construction can weaken the structure over time.

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“Again, design Flaws is also not left out. Structural designs that do not account for loads, environmental conditions, or safety measures can lead to instability.

“Furthermore, inferior materials can also contribute to the building collapse. Using substandard or inappropriate materials can compromise a building’s strength and durability.

“Moreso, neglecting regular inspections and maintenance allows issues to worsen, potentially resulting in failure.”

However, worried by the ugly development, the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) has called for the proper implementation of standard requirements for building in Nigeria.

NIA’s President, Arc. Enyi Ben-Eboh in a statement expressed concern over the increasing rate of building collapse in the country.

The apex Architect body noted that it behooves the 36 State Governments of the Federation to as a matter of priority commence and conclude the process of domestication of the National Building Code in their various States.

“These agencies must also have oversight powers to enforce maintenance of public buildings owned by private entities,” they noted.

The Architects noted that they will not only design and erect taller buildings but we will also deploy more advanced technologies to operate them.

They added: “The Nigerian Institute of Architects as well as allied professionals within the built environment not only possess the competence and experience but also stand ready to collaborate with Government at all levels in the establishment and operation of these agencies.

“It is imperative that an integrated systems driven approach is implemented one which is collaborative in nature, competence driven, transparent and accountable.”

The Architects stressed the need to focus on the poor state of the nation’s public buildings.

“Our buildings, especially the large multistory types, are complex systems which comprise of layers of sub systems working together to ensure safe, conducive and efficient human occupation and utilization.

”These subsystems include the structural and building envelope, vertical transport systems, HVAC systems, electrical systems (lighting, power, communication, media, security systems etc) to mention a few.

“As in every building, especially as in the current case, there should ideally exist a close relationship between the Client/Owner, the Architects, Engineers and the Contractor towards owning and managing all the risks the project poses from the inception stage to the project delivery stage and the post-construction/ occupancy stage (the entire lifespan of the building).

“It is the failure of risk ownership that has led not only to the more familiar failures like building collapses at the construction stage but also of potentially more severe cases like severe fire outbreaks, post-construction building collapses, vertical transport system failures, HVAC and air handling system failure among others.

“In recognizing the shortcomings of our maintenance culture, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR on April 5, 2022, signed Executive Order 11 which focuses on the maintenance of our National public buildings and culminated in the setting up of the Federal Public Assets Maintenance Department (FPAMD).

“While such interventions are commendable, it is important that our nation departs from the silo-ed approach in policy formulation and implementation to an all of government/ all encompassing approach that is simple and collaborative across all tiers of Government and society.”

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