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ARCON, NITP seek probe of eight-storey hotel collapse in Imo

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
11 May 2020   |   4:13 am
To curtail future occurrence of disasters arising from building collapse in Imo State, two professional bodies in the built environment have implored the state government...

The eight-storey hotel building in Owerri, Imo State capital that collapsed recently

To curtail future occurrence of disasters arising from building collapse in Imo State, two professional bodies in the built environment have implored the state government to set up a panel of enquiry on the collapse of the eight-storey hotel building.

The Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON) and Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) also indicated the council’s readiness to aid government in its bid to probe the incident that led to the death of more than a dozen individuals.

ARCON President, Sir Oladipupo Ajayi, spoke on the site of the collapse during a joint ARCON and Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Imo state chapter’s visit to the site.

According to Jude Obidegwu, Imo ARCON representative, Ajayi, said that, architects regulatory council, was determined to give helping hand to the Imo state government, which has indicated readiness to probe the incident and bring culprits to book.

Governor Hope Uzodinma, had said the developers violated the restriction order in the state by constructing the building during the lockdown, adding that they did not follow the authorised plan. While commiserating with the families of the victims assured them that the perpetrators will be prosecuted.

Uzodimma, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku on Saturday in Owerri, promised full investigation into the incident.

He warned that under no circumstance should such structure be erected without appropriate approval, monitoring and supervision by the Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA) and all other agencies charged with such responsibility.

In an interim report, signed by Obidegwu, Imo ARCON representative and Dr. Basil Agoha, NIA Imo chapter Chairman, the architects, said there was need for the government to investigate the incident, urging the government to include them in the probe panel.

The architects also said there was need for the state government to audit all existing structure with a view to determine their structural integrity.

“We reiterated our call on the Imo State government since 2019 to set up an immediate audit team to ascertain the statuses and integrity of all old buildings in the State starting with the Owerri Capital Territory.”

According to pre-contract agreement, the report noted that, the architectural consultant was approached by the client, who resides in France, to design a 6-floor hotel complex on the land he acquired at the Musa Yar Adua Drive in Owerri metropolis.

On acceptance of the sketch design by the client, he engaged the services of qualified structural and M & E engineers for the production of working drawings and approval documents for the approval process.

He also explained that as there was no formal commission letter, the client engaged him as an all-in-one consultancy service with the exception of the QS services based on their understanding.

Also, they were not involved in the approval process as the client interacted directly with the OCDA (Owerri Capital Development Authority).

According to the findings, the report said that, although the design was for six-storey building, the structure was later increased to eight storey, a situation that, allegedly brought misunderstanding between the client, the contractor and the consultants.

Consequently, the consultants said they pulled out of the deal, as the client insisted adding two floors to the structure.

NITP President, Lekwa Ezutah in a statement advised that members of the panel of enquiry should comprise major stakeholders in the built environment, especially the professional bodies. “All found culpable should be made to face the law,” he added.

He reminded the State Government that the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Law, LFN 2004, CAP N138 (NURP), which is the backbone of physical planning and development in Nigeria has still not been domesticated as part of laws of Imo State.

“The Law provides for the establishment of an effective administrative structure and preparation of development plans and enforcement instrument to prevent building collapse and enhance sustainable development.

Ezutah called for the review the Owerri Capital Development Authority Edict in line with the NURP Law especially as it relates to the composition of the board.

He said: “We are confident that going forward, the right thing will be done for the people of Imo State as far as physical planning and development is concerned to avoid future occurrence.”