Experts urge sanctions against professionals indicted for building collapse
NIOB seeks housing schemes’ implementation
Professionals in the built environment have advised authorities to sanction those found culpable in building collapse.The experts spoke to The Guardian on the heels of a recent incident in Jabi area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), where two people were found died while no fewer than 18 persons including women and children were trapped under a four-storey building.
It was reported that despite the abandonment of the structure for about 15 years, additional two floors were imposed on the building.In his reaction, President of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Kenneth Nduka, lamented that the collapse is a show of prevailing disregard for professionalism, stressing that the developer and others involved on the project need to answer question and if found culpable, should be properly sanctioned.
“We all must stand against the prevailing structured blight on professionals and professionalism. The prevailing compromise by professionals and developers must stop. This avoidable but deliberate assault on our national resources must stop; our people must be protected from avoidable careless death. The developers of the facility need be brought to book”.
Nduka said that all relevant professional bodies in the industry must wake up and demand immediate reconciliation of all urban and physical planning laws, in response to domestication of the National Building Code, which needs to be immediately enacted into law. He added that government at all levels should be reasonably held accountable for the menace of incessant building collapse.He expressed condolences to families affected in the obvious compromise by property developers, built environment professionals and regulatory agencies.
Similarly, the President of Building Collapse and Prevention Guilds (BCPG), Mr. Akinola George said necessary measures to enforce zero-tolerance in the built environment must be put in place.“Investigations are still ongoing on the causes of the collapse of the structure but immediate facts show that the building was abandoned for a long time. We stand for zero building collapse and whatever we have to do to make sure that collapses do not occur is welcomed”.
George said: “We believed that neither integrity test nor building control was done before the additional two floors were constructed on the structure. We need to establish whether any of the seven professional bodies in the industry is involved or whether impostors basically carried out the job”.
According to him, no singular action could stop building collapse in the country; however, he said with continuous advocacy and enforcement of policies, there is hope for a saner society in the industry.
On his part, the chairman, Nigerian Society of Engineers, (NSE), Apapa Branch; Dr. Ombugadu Garba, pointed out that regulatory bodies must ensure that building design are done according to specification and that standard of building materials are not compromised.
Meanwhile, the NIOB has called for the deployment of practical steps in the provision of housing in the country. Nduka who made the appeal commended the recent federal government’s initiative through the Family Homes Fund Limited, the Ministry of finance and Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority which is intended to generate about N1trillion by 2023 specifically for facilitating access to affordable housing development for low and medium income earners.He stated that with the potential of the plan to create about 1.5million jobs, it is a welcome development that must be geared up with immediate practical implementation.
According to him, government needs to declare a state of emergency on affordable housing while professionals, and all the key players have to be constructively engaged to structure out the best foot to be put forward in terms of policy design and implementation, fund availability and ease of access at minimal interest rates.
He said housing challenges have its nuisance value chains but when swiftly attended to, the issues of low productivity, population explosions, health challenges, social restiveness, internally displaced persons, general insecurity, among others, could be put on check before they graduate into epileptic nascence. Nduka said the baseline minimum wage earner should ordinarily be the target of most home schemes but lamented that’s not to be in our present setting.
“The experiences in our major cities, especially Abuja, have shown that housing stocks are provided not as a solution to actual housing demands but as an expression for bourgeois attainment and a quick fix for simulating investments from seemingly corrupt earnings”.“Difficulties encountered over accessibility to land and mortgage loans, delayed development approval processes, the exclusion of relevant competent built environment professionals, the dearth of skilled artisans and craftsmen, the endless policy summersaults on housing issues by successive political leaderships, the ever changing technology trends, the increasing global economic melt down have contributed to compound the challenges facing the realization of the united nations millennium goal mandate of housing for all”, he said.
He tasked government to wake up to its onerous role of creating the right business environment that would stimulate entrepreneurship appetites, promote right investment models, and guarantee off takers’ sustained involvement in affordable housing.“I will like to challenge our minds with the prevailing reality that our population is surging most geometrically, global economic melt down is prancing and staring us in the face, the cost of living indices are daily rising thus constricting the supply of affordable housing and progressively escalating deepened homelessness.
Our actions today will therefore determine whether our envisaged major and mega cities of the future will graduate into inclusive sanctuaries that embrace diversity, or a homogenous cities where only the most privileged can live”. According to him, recognising housing, as a human right will make it possible for the citizens to realise their potentials and for the society to thrive and prosper.
“Like the minimum wage, affordable housing would therefore provide a floor, not a ceiling, for every citizen. People would still be able to strive for more, but every resident would have a place to strive from.We must therefore reject “affordable housing” proposals that are predicated solely on profitability indices and bourgeoisie class ego massaging by luxury developers and corporate donors”, he stated.
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