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Lagos government warns engineers, developers against building collapse

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Engr. Olufunsho Elulade

*We will ground substandard building and heaven will not fall, LSMTL new GM blows hot

The Lagos State Government has cautioned engineers and developers in the state against sharp practices that could lead to building collapse.

The new General Manager, Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory (LSMTL), Olufunsho Elulade, warned that the agency would not leave any stone unturned to ensure that perpetrators are hit with the full wrath of the law.

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Elulade, who spoke at the LSMTL Conference Room, Ojodu, Lagos, yesterday, said: “As a civil engineer, I will put my professional experiences making sure this agency is taken to a greater height.

“The primary function of this agency is to have zero-tolerance on building collapse. Our mandate is to carry out tests on buildings and civil engineering and construction materials so that we can confirm the stability, strength, as well as the structure of any edifice.

“We need to create a database for all producers and manufacturers of construction materials in Lagos. All block moulding factories must be captured. At every stage of any construction, we must carry out tests.”

“Things have changed. Lagos State has become heavily built, and for us to actually realise the importance of this agency, we need to tweak the law slightly.”

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This agency will do what it’s mandated to. Speaking on the government agency also being caught in a web of sharp practices especially in the case of the last collapse of Unilag library, staff strength and whistle-blower policy of the agency, he said, “everything is in the law and the solution is operating the law, full operationalization of the law. Taking into consideration that UNILAG has a testing Laboratory, so you wonder, why should that happen?

A lot of aiding and abetting is going on in the industry, instead of them to do the right test, they rather engage in sharp practices. For me, we have our enforcement and there is a penalty clause in our law, which we will use fully, we will adopt all the penalty clauses, which exists in the law. The ones we need to review will be reviewed because if you don’t hit people hard, they will not understand what they have done is wrong.

“About the issue of whistleblowers, I think it’s a welcome idea but of course, it has its own cost implications. So, if that could be accommodated, why not? But I think there is a better way of doing this, I could do consultancies, get people all over the place, which allows public inclusion, serves as poverty alleviation and creates jobs for people. So, they will go round and give a report. In addition to that, we are going to give the entire enforcement unit all the necessary support to go out because the law allows the agency to have presence in all the local governments in the state.

Presently, we have six divisional offices; Badagry, Ikorodu, Epe, Agege, Ikeja 1 and 2 and with the rate at which developments is going on in Lagos, definitely, they are not enough and it’s enough for private laboratories to be taking inventory because we find out that a lot of them have obsolete equipment that can’t give correct results but people still go there because it’s cheap. So, it is our mandate to make sure that they have the required equipment for testing; the ones that don’t have may end up being shut down because we need to protect the lives of Lagosians. We have a lot of staff that can go around. We have 180 staff, and what is important is to give them responsibilities.

“On developers, we are going to put on our searchlight. The first thing we need to do is to register all the developers, we will set indicators and based on those indicators we will categorize all the developers. So once we have their data, it is easy for us. World best practice includes having data, so, for me in this agency, data is key.

Responsible to the question on sacred cows not allowing government agencies to carry out their functions, he said, “for me, I don’t think ignorance in law is allowed. If we need to ground a building as a result of defects and then they prevent us from carrying out our statutory right, I am using this opportunity to tell them that we will ground the building. We will ground the building and heaven will not fall because we cannot allow incessant building collapse in the state any longer. The searchlight will be on this agency and the first thing we will ask is for a test result on any building.

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