Building collapse: Who’s to blame?

The issue of building collapse in Nigeria is increasingly becoming imminent. Several articles have been published with regards to the causes of these collapses as well their effects. In most cases, the causes are somewhat obvious and similar so to speak, with engagement of non-professionals (quacks) and sharp practices (use of substandard materials, etc.) leading the pack. The issue here is, considering that these said causes have already been identified and are recurrent in most cases, what really has been done in order to tackle this issue?!
Evidently, there exists some bodies in Nigeria charged with regulating building practices. These organization are charged with the accreditation of building professionals as well as regulating their practice. However, until the year 2006, Nigeria was without uniform regulations, guidelines and standards for the design, construction and operation/maintenance of buildings. Despite the existence of the regulatory bodies like the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON), the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON) and also the Quantity Surveyors Registration Board of Nigeria (QSRBN), the state of affairs in the building construction industry and in the built environment is still deplorable.
Nigeria has a draft of its own uniform regulations and standards in form of the Nigerian Building Code (NBC) and also enforcement agencies charged with ensuring that these regulations and standards are adhered to. Yet, the issue of building collapse in the country is still persistent. It is apparent that the building code is just a mere draft with the legislation and enforcement still unachievable. Various states across the country fail to domesticate the legislation in their states rendering the code dormant so to speak. However, in view of the persistent cases of collapse in the country, The Federal ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban development in 2013 summoned a meeting with professionals and stakeholders in the built environment to revalidate the code’s provisions where appropriate as well as consider fresh memoranda on resolving associated problems with particular regard to building collapse. The inclusion of the Builder’s document as enshrined in the code being reviewed is viewed as a practical way of solving the issue of building collapse in the country. The document is viewed to engender efficient and quality of building works. Sadly, the reviewed draft of the National Building Code is still yet to be enacted into law by the National Assembly.
Just recently, a building collapsed during construction in Zaria which resulted in the loss of lives with several more injured. Not to forget, the devastating collapse of The Synagogue Church of All Nations building that occurred in the Ikotun area of Lagos state on September 12, 2014. The crowded six-storey building trapped about 300 people killing 116 people and over 100 injured. Notably also is the loss of no fewer than 34 persons and several others injured in the case of a five-storey building under construction at Lekki Gardens Horizon 1, in the Lekki Phase 1 area of Lagos state which collapsed on March 8,2016.
Apparently, it seems to be a game of pointing fingers whenever a building collapse in Nigeria trying to pinpoint who really is at fault. While evidently, loss of lives and properties are the consequence of these collapses but nobody wants to take responsibility. So as a curious young graduate of building, and a concerned citizen, I ask this question- “who really are we to blame?!” Notably, the government and also the agencies have been doing their best in mitigating the issue of building collapse in Nigeria as it is believed some disasters are somewhat inevitable. But still, somewhere, somehow, something is still wrong which begs the question- is their best really enough?!

Mahmud Bello Zailani, Zaria, Kaduna state

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