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Engineers canvass quality control to curb construction failures

By Victor Gbonegun
27 December 2021   |   3:44 am
Engineers have advocated an improvement of quality assurance management in the building industry. They urged the private sector to be involved in building monitoring....

Engineers have advocated an improvement of quality assurance management in the building industry. They urged the private sector to be involved in building monitoring, enforcement of rules and codes as well as drawings before and during construction.

They spoke during a webinar on ‘Recent Building Collapse in Nigeria and its Implication on Future Designs and Construction’ organised by the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), London/United Kingdom branch.

Leading the call, the Chairman, Arup Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Adebajo, said the country’s construction industry needs to be sanitised as there are corruption in approvals, inspection processes, which encourages use of defective materials.

Speaking on the recent 21-floor building collapse in Ikoyi, Adebajo said the failure could be due to non-involvement of structural engineers.

He said: “The authorities must realise that they can’t do it alone and must adopt public-private partnerships, engaging those who have professional indemnity and capacity to do it.

“From all indications, the columns at the lower levels were undergoing some forms of stress, there were cracks and attempt were made to correct it by increasing the capacity and size of the columns.”

Adebajo, who is also a Council member of the Association of Consulting Engineers of Nigeria (ACEN), lamented that construction has become an all comers’ affairs, where people who are not trained, get involved in construction processes.

A United Kingdom- based building consultant, Mr. Tomi Adebayo, said the National Building Code must be deployed to enforce standards in high-rise construction, while the qualification and years of experience of the building control officers also need to be checked for optimal performance.

He said: “There are specific inspectors that deal with high-rise structures. Some building drawings are very complicated and people, who have to check the drawings must have required experience and so building control needs to be supported by private sector.”

He stressed the need to involve third party assurance scheme to reduce corruption in the industry. The President, Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN), Mrs. Funmilola Ojelade, harped on integrity in construction project delivery to avert reoccurrence of structural failures.

She said: “Acting with integrity is what professional engineers and people must consider. Engineers must be well paid, while it is not an excuse, it could be the root of working without integrity.”

Contributing, Dr. Moses Iyengunmwena, acknowledged that the recent Ikoyi collapse building was unusual, adding that defects in design and drawings as well as violation of code provisions for economical designs could be factors for the failure.

He said: “A structure of that magnitude should be designed with structural redundancy such that removal of one column won’t cause the collapse of the building. We must design for safety. In Nigeria, we need to also separate structural engineer from civil engineer. Unlicensed contractors shouldn’t be supervising building projects.”

Earlier, the chairman of the branch, Mr. Theo ‘Bosun Odunlami, said the discussion was apt as it x-rays current issue in engineering practice.

Odunlami said: “The essence is to examine structural information regarding collapse building, causes, mitigation and implication of collapse structure on the economy and the engineering profession as a whole.”