The Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), on Thursday vowed to adopt all lawful measures towards taming building collapses on Lagos Island, other parts of the state and across the federation.
The NIOB during a press briefing ahead of its forth coming Builders Conference billed for Oct. 22 in Lagos, also pledged its commitment to ensure demolition of identified 97 distressed buildings still standing dangerously.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the NIOB in collaboration with the Building Collapse Prevention Guild had in 2019 carried out an audit of Lagos Island buildings.
They raised alarm that over 1,000 distressed buildings hanging dangerously may collapse if nothing was done to demolish them.
NAN investigations revealed that the Lagos State Government had initially swung into action, but later abandoned the process of demolition of the structures during the Akinwunmi Ambode administration.
However, General Manager of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LABSCA) in a recent interview, told NAN that the agency was yet to get the report of the distressed buildings from NIOB.
Commenting on the issue, Lagos NIOB Treasurer, Mr Mubarak Gbajabiamila explained that the administration of Ambode began the demolition; but lacked the political will to conclude it.
Gbajabiamila said only three out of the over 1,000 identified were demolished making the Sanwo-Olu administration to inherit new series of building collapses on assumption of office.
“There was a list of distressed buildings that was submitted but the relevant government agencies never swung into action.
“As an organisation, NIOB had some of our members following up the team but one of the problems the government had then was the political will.
“I followed them on the Island witnessing three demolitions, one was on Bamgboshe street, there was another one at Itafaji and they simply stopped because the politicians required these same people to vote for them during elections.
“And the present government of Gov. Olusola Sanwo-Olu came in and could not continue because the man came in and met another round of collapses with another one in Obalende on Sunday.
“So the government needs to stop worrying about who and who would vote for them and save lives,’’he said.
He said that competent building professionals should be made to head agencies that regulate the industry instead of political associates to stop Lagos from topping building collapse figures in Nigeria.
“We cannot demolish, we can only talk to government. The list of distressed buildings will be resubmitted to this new administration, but like I said continuity is an agency thing,’’ he said.
Gbajabiamila listed the benefits of the builders conference which include bringing all stakeholders in the built environment to proffer solutions to housing problems and needs.
Meanwhile, the NIOB Lagos Branch Chairman, Mr Sunday Wusu, said all measures would be adopted to partner with the state government to stop building collapses in the state currently topping the national chart.
Wusu commended current strong laws and regulations being enforced by the state government to ensure developers were made liable for building collapses thereby curbing the trend.
“The laws have been existing for almost 10 years but there were no clear cut regulations to guide who is going to do what and what is going to happen to each of the professionals, but we were able to force government to enact those regulations that came out last year.
“Issue of political will power is there for government but we on this side will not look at that political will, we will continue our pressure.
“We will continue giving them necessary information and suggestions on how to do it such that, what is in the law would be adhered to and enforcement process will continue on that.
“Secondly, I am privy to some of the new systems of enforcement now, all construction works starting from the onset of setting out are to be approved by individual professional bodies,’’ he said.
Wusu blamed undue interferences by top officials and politicians in the affairs of ministry officials engaged by various agencies as part of problem militating against proper regulation.
“If senior government officials at the helm of affairs stop interfering with what the field officers are doing, then the building collapses would come to an end,’’ he said.
He also listed efforts of certified builders to tame the ugly trend in addition to complementing identified state and federal government efforts.
He added that the federal government had come up with a platform to train and retrain artisans which was yielding results.
Mr Adelaja Adekanmbi, immediate past Chairman said the branch had also made submissions to the state government on the need and how to flush out quacks from the industry.
Adekanmbi lamented that most buildings collapsing in the state were the new ones which was raising concerns of urgent measures within the NIOB.