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Concerns over Lagos distressed buildings as experts chart new course for expired structures

By Bertram Nwannekanma
28 September 2020   |   4:17 am
There are fresh concerns over a cluster of distressed buildings in Lagos and the likelihood of them collapsing as rainfall gets heavier.

Distressed houses marked for demolition on Lagos Island yesterday following the collapse of a three-storey building in the area on Wednesday

There are fresh concerns over a cluster of distressed buildings in Lagos and the likelihood of them collapsing as rainfall gets heavier.

Built environment professionals are concerned that government is lacking the ability to match words with action.

They remind of the situation leading to the collapse of a three-storey building located at 95 Cemetry Street, directly opposite Ebute Metta Comprehensive Health Centre, Lagos, in July.

According to them, it is still unthinkable that the state is yet to implement the recommendations of the five- man panel set up by the Government to investigate the cause of the collapse of the building at 63 Massey Street, Ita Faji, in Lagos Island.

The panel was chaired by a former Permanent Secretary in the state, Mr. Wasiu Olokunola, and made up of professionals in the private sector and built environment.

The professionals are worried that buildings located in the mainland, Islands, Lagos outskirts and suburbs are left unattended to despite assurances by the authority to pull them down.

The Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) advised the state government to demolish such buildings.

The chairman of the chapter, Mr. Wusu Sunday, said the demolition should be carried out after necessary assessment that will enable the State government and owners of such buildings be on same page such that buildings that are weak and unstable to stand on their own will no longer cause health hazards/accident to their occupants, adjoining buildings and the immediate environment.

According to him, NIOB has always advised the government to demolish such buildings as soon as they were discovered, because some of this buildings also harbour miscreants and criminals causing security threats to the neighbourhood.

“The government has not been acting as they ought to because they lack political will before now but we believe that this new government means business and in due course those marked buildings for demolition will soon be pulled down”, he added.

The President, Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (NIStructE), Dr. Kehinde Osifala, said, if a building is distressed and it is confirmed, it should either be strengthened or pulled down.
He stressed that there is no short cut about it because most of the distressed buildings in Lagos are expired, but nobody is taking inventory of those expired buildings as afar as it is still standing.

According to him, when you design a building for a particular number of years and once that number of years are passed, definitely the rate of maintenance and strengthening will be higher and one-day it will naturally cave in, if you don’t continue to strengthen it.

He stressed that buildings are designed to last for between 50 years to 100 years depending on the structure.

“When you design a building and it is over 50 years, you have to continually maintain it and the rate of maintenance will definitely be high because it is assumed that its useful life has passed, especially those buildings in Lagos

“There are some new buildings that are collapsing because of lapses. Some of them are under construction, it is because of design or supervision errors but for the older ones that are collapsing, you have to categorise them”, he added.

For instance, the State had in July identified 500 distressed buildings and marked 102 of the them for demolition.

The General Manager, Lagos State Building Control Agency, (LABSCA), Mrs. Biola Kosegbe, expressed zero tolerance for distressed and dilapidated buildings in the state.

According to Kosegbe, buildings marked for demolition had been published in the national newspapers by the agency in the first instance, while all the tenants/occupiers of distressed buildings had been advised to evacuate immediately as demolition would commence after the expiration of the seven-day notice.

She said that distressed structures in the state would be removed by LASBCA, having served all the statutory enforcement notices in consonance with the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law of 2010, and with no response from the respective owners and developers.

However, two months after, these structures are still standing in various parts of the states.

They include four-floor structure at 3, Olusoji Idowu street, Ilupeju, three-floor structure at 22 Odi-Olowo, Lagos, four-floor defective structure at 64 Odo- Osin Street, Lagos Island, defective four-floor structure at 48, Evans Street, Lagos Island and three-floor structure at 16 Togunwa street, Lagos Island .

Others are two-floor defective structure along Aiyetoro road, at 39 Ayetoro road, Epe, Distress two- floor structure at 5 Agboro- Ode Street, Off Ayetoro Road Epe, Epe, three-floor burnt structure along Lagos-Epe Expressway, Abijo, Ibeju-lekki, two-floor structures at 5 Kuseyi Street, off Akinwunmi Street, Mushin, three structures at 40 layi Oyekanmi Street, off Akinwunmi Street, Mushin, three-floor structure at 55 Railway line Odi-Olowo, Mushin.