Monday, 2nd October 2023

Building Collapse:  HURIWA seeks stiffer penalty for contractors, professionals using substandard materials

By Bertram Nwannekanma
20 September 2022   |   4:05 am
Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), yesterday, bemoaned the  number of collapsed buildings across the country, saying state governments, town planning authorities and building-controlled agencies must step up regulatory standards...

The collapsed building

• LASPEMA, LASBCA embark on joint demolition along Lekki-Epe Expressway
• Lagos declares zero tolerance for setbacks, incidental open spaces abuse

Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), yesterday, bemoaned the  number of collapsed buildings across the country, saying state governments, town planning authorities and building-controlled agencies must step up regulatory standards to stop the menacing trend, which has claimed scores of lives, especially in the last one month.

HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, canvassed the passage of a bill to criminalise use substandard materials by building engineers and builders.

He said: “We would be sending a letter to the hierarchy of the National Assembly and the President to canvass passage of a bill to make collapsed buildings due to engineering lapses and corruption offences punishable by death penalty.

“ We ask state governments and regulatory agencies to go beyond issuing condolence statements after building collapses were avoidable if they were diligent in the enforcement of building standards and protocols.

“ Particularly we ask Lagos State House of Assembly and the Governor to declare a state of emergency on building collapses in the state as well as take concrete punitive measures against her officials that connive with land speculators to erect substandard structures that have collapsed in quick succession in the state.

“We expressed concerns at the quick succession of building collapses in the months of August and September. From Lagos to Abuja, Kano and Akwa-Ibom, the spate of wreckages in the last four weeks cut across the country.”

MEANWHILE, a combined team of Lagos State Planning and Environmental Monitoring Agency (LASPEMA), Lagos State Building Control Agency (LABSCA) and Lagos State Special Operations Task Force has embarked on demolition of illegal structures under high tension power line along the land abutting Lekki-Epe Express road.

The General Manager, LASPEMA, Daisi Oso, who spoke during the exercise said months back, appeals were made and  contravention notices served to all car lots, shanties’ owners and other informal business operators occupying these setbacks along Lekki Epe Expressway axis to evacuate, but they refused to comply, instead continued illegal activities.

He  explained that the encroachment on these setbacks and Incidental Open Spaces (IOS), which poses serious threats to safety of life and property of citizens and future developments in the state, cannot be overlooked by the state government since there is a social contract of protecting lives , hence the urgent intervention  to restore sanity on these setbacks/IOS,  be it roads, railway, power transmission lines, wetlands and gorges, among others throughout the state.

The General Manager who expressed dissatisfaction over all structures erected under power transmission lines, insisted that Lagos State Government under any authority did not issue any approval/permit to occupants of the concerned areas for either business or residential purposes against claims from some quarters.

According to him, the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2019, Sections 2e and 2n, is where the Agency derives its Mandate from pursuant to monitor and regulate all activities on these setbacks and IOS against abuse and misuse in the State”.

He noted that the structures demolished around County Estate and Ikota Villa along Lekki Epe Expressway by officials of the state was remediation for deterioration of Urban Environmental quality on that corridor and more of such will have to go for the wellbeing of the state as a whole.

He said: “Lekki remains a very critical area and one of Nigeria’s fastest growing centres, where both government and private sectors are putting a lot of huge investments. In view of this, the state government will continue to preserve its environs and anything less becomes an irritant, because this  government is  committed to achieving on his T.H.E.M.E.S agenda. This ongoing demolition exercise will continue throughout the state, especially where infractions are noticed on setbacks and  IOS.

“It is noteworthy that these demolition exercises will not only reduce environmental problems but enhance security of life and property of those living around this environment; pedestrians and vehicular movements that have been  hampered are now going to be abated and this will improve the quality of lives in the area”, he affirmed.

“In the last few years, the government of Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has invested massively in infrastructural facilities development, which has been quick to be defaced by these illegal structures thereby altering the initial plans of development and endangering the aesthetics of the environment.”

Oso further stressed that  series of complaints had been lodged by Lekki Estates Residents and Stakeholders Association (LERSA) on their fears  at the level of degradation going on in Lekki environ, which necessitated a stakeholder engagement earlier in the week with over 80 inhabitants participating  in a virtual meeting where they cried out for help to the state government to help save their lives investments and their social well-being.

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