Incidences of building collapse in Nigeria are posing serious challenges to all the stakeholders in the building industry- building consultants, governments, developers, landlords and users. There have been so many incidences of building collapse in Nigeria over the years. Firstly, buildings collapse due to human errors such as faulty design, faulty construction, and use of substandard building materials, negligence, omissions, ignorance, quackery, corruption and sabotage. The second factor is natural occurrence such as flood, earthquakes, heavy wind e.t.c.
Typical examples of collapsed buildings include collapse of Multi-Storey Building in Mokola, Ibadan, Oyo State (1974), building under construction at Benjamin Opara Street, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, (2006) and many others.
On the night of November, 2012, an uncompleted 3-storey building collapsed in a water-logged area of Owerri during a heavy downpour. Fake cement was used, supervised by a chemist! On May, 15th, a 4-storey building under construction collapsed in Agbama Estate in Umuahia killing undisclosed number of squatters under the floors. Investigation revealed that building regulations permit a maximum of 2 floors in the area. On 5th September, 2013, a 4-storey building under construction, collapsed at 24 Obanye Street in Onitsha, during a downpour.
In November 2021, a multi –story building collapsed in Ikoyi which claimed more than 40 lives. The developer Femi Osibona, also lost his life in that unfortunate incident. And just recently, another collapse occurred in Oniru, Lagos in the early hours of Sunday, 5th September, 2022. A seven-storey building under construction caved in; two are dead and others are yet to be found.
Solutions To Building Collapses In Nigeria
1.The Right Human Resource
A major guaranteed solution to building collapse in Nigeria is the employment of the right human resource to any building and construction project. To ensure that the right human resources are engaged in building and construction projects the following steps should be adhered to. Contractors, in other to cut the cost of projects, most times engage the services of non–professionals who are not licensed to engage in any building projects. Experts have blamed incompetent artisans and weak supervision of workmen as one of the major reasons of building collapse. It is generally said that the best way to manage a crisis is to avoid it, it is advisable that the best way to manage crisis resulting from building collapse is to prevent it by avoiding the use of quacks and non-building professionals in any major building projects. All relevant building regulating bodies should ensure constant continuous education and professional development of its members that will help them update their skills and knowledge.
- Strict Adherence To Quality Building Materials
Experts have revealed that one of the major causes of building collapse is the failure and lackluster effort of building contractors to pay strict adherence to quality building materials. A research by the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) indicates that poor quality building materials are major causes of building collapse in Nigeria. The research pointed directly at cement because most cement used in building construction does not hold other particles strongly. From a professional point of view, there are three cement types presently in use worldwide, which are 32.5mpa, 42.5mpa and 52.5mpa. The 32.5mpa can only be used for plastering and block making. The 42.5mpa is for multipurpose usage such as block molding, concreting, slabs and high-rise buildings but it can’t be used for plastering. The 52.5mpa can be used for high density works such as bridges, embankments, dams and retainer walls. Therefore, to ensure the avoidance of building collapse, builders should always ensure that the right cement specification is used for the appropriate construction types.
- The Right Design Structure:
Having the right design structure is a guaranteed solution to building collapse. Building contractors should ensure that their designs are reviewed and approved by appropriate authorities before construction begins. This is so because most designs in Nigeria are copied from other countries without considering the conditions that led to such design.
Bad design does not only mean poor architectural design, but it involves some other professional design inputs. To get the right design structure, it is advisable that the contractor engages the services of a building designer. The areas to look out during design to guarantee reduction of building collapse includes;
– Adequate feasibility study. Designers should ensure adequate feasibility study on the authenticity of the land and nature, soil adequacy, site inventory and analysis.
– Ensure the avoidance of inadequate or poor design details, poor supervision, sub-standard material specification and faulty or lack of maintenance schedule
- Proper Maintenance Culture
Poor maintenance culture is another factor that can lead to building collapse. The truth is that even the best constructed buildings need constant attention and if the attention is delayed, what can start as being something very minor is liable to turn quickly into an expensive man-made disaster.
No building can exist throughout its lifespan without the need for one form of maintenance or the other. Experts believe that maintenance work commences on the day the contractor lives the site. The necessity for maintenance work on buildings is noted in the fact that all buildings as well as the materials and components therein, deteriorate or suffer loss in aesthetic, strength and or functional value with exposure to the elements of weather over time.
The following strategies can be used to ensure proper maintenance of a building;
- Corrective Maintenance: This is a maintenance strategy that involves every activity performed to identify, detect and rectify a fault so that the failed structure or building element can be restored to its normal state. This type of maintenance is carried out in other to restore the structure to its original state. If this type of maintenance is to be used, then the element is allowed to be used until it breaks down to a point where it can only be repaired or replaced.
- Preventive Maintenance: This is another type of maintenance that is performed on a building structure to lessen the likelihood of it failing. Just as the name implies, it is performed immediately it is detected to avoid an unexpected collapse.
- Condition- based Maintenance: This strategy involves maintenance when the need arises. It involves the use of actual condition of the structure to decide what maintenance needs to be done. This can be done by monitoring the buildings elements such as walls, floors, roof etc to identify which element that requires maintenance before a major failure occurs.
- Passing And Signing The National Building Code
The National Building Code is the document that is expected to regulate the conduct and operations of professionals and stakeholders in the construction industry. It is some sort of guideline for those who operate in the built environment sector. Experts believe the absence of a National Building Code has been largely responsible for the incessant incidence of collapsed buildings being witnessed across the country and that passing the national building code into law will definitely;
– Regulate and stop the use of non-professionals and quacks in the building and construction industries who are also major contributors of building collapse.
– Ensure the compliance by contractors to stop the use of untested products and materials in all construction projects as a way of preventing structural defects.
– Proper maintenance culture. Just as stated earlier that poor maintenance culture can lead to building collapse. The national building code will ensure that builders implement good maintenance culture regularly and always.
In conclusion, apart from some very rare cases of the act of God, most building collapse incidences in Nigeria are majorly man-made. By following these five solutions, one can guarantee to a very large extent that the numbers of building collapse cases in Nigeria will drastically reduce to the barest minimum.