Flustered by the unfortunate loss of lives in a three-storey building that collapsed in Central Lagos last week, experts in the built environment have made case for the review of all identified distressed buildings in the state.
They argued that since government is in possession of the list of such buildings, an audit process should be carried out with immediate effect.
According to them, government also needs to organise a forum where stakeholders from each council be represented while the authorities should give a moratorium to the affected residents and outlaw the redevelopment of the affected properties until a review of processes and systems.
Many primary school pupils were killed last week after a three-storey building at Ita Faji, Lagos Island, collapsed. The school occupies a space in the building.
Reacting to the incident, a town planner and member, Lagos Island chapter, Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG), Akeem Bishi said the collapse was a reflection of a shoddy job on the structure that was built or renovated recently.
According to him, one additional floor was placed on top of the storey building.
He told The Guardian that the incident calls a stakeholders’ forum, which could be done in each local government areas whereby a general agreement for moratorium on all new development which will establish done.
“So it is very likely that there was no provision for the additional floor when the original foundation was prepared. Nobody knows whether the original foundation was even solid and so that is one possibility. But not until the result of the final professional technical investigation is out, nobody could say specifically what is actually responsible as the cause of the collapse.
He noted that generally building collapse don’t just happen overnight except it is sabotage, an explosion or something that could compromise the integrity of the structure on the spot which could happen any day.
“There is need for review of all previously identified distressed buildings. Several of the distressed buildings including the one that collapsed have been marked. What are the buildings still doing after they have been marked. If they alleged that the people are stuborn and don’t want to come out, government could chase them out by force if need be. We are more concerned about safety of lives and properties, which is also the responsibility of government. The first priority is to bring down the building so that it doesn’t kill people unnecessarily”.
“By rough estimate, there are another hundreds of buildings on Lagos Island and there are so many candidate buildings for collapse everywhere. In this particular case, it is neither of those, it is a shoddy job of a building that was built or renovated recently since the last few years. Based on the indications from people who live around the site, people said they have observed problems with the building and they had told the landlord about it before the eventual collapse”.
He explained that there is the need for those who monitor the buildings in Lagos to be more diligent in their jobs as they can’t be pre-empt of blames in the particular incident.
The coordinator of Lagos Island Cell of BCPG, Mubarak Gbaja-Biamila said the solution to the menace of building collapse lays in the hand of the government stressing that it needs the utmost sincerity of purpose with the people and ‘strong political will’ to mitigate the challenge.
According to him, government should prioritize housing provision for the people by making lands accessible and reducing the bottlenecks associated with land titling while issues of housing finance, which is challenged by high interest rate, must be made easy as well as provision of low cost and longer mortgage regime must be designed for residents.
Originally published in The Guardian