Professionals, officials differ on penalty for contraveners of building signboard rules
Although, Section 30 of the Lagos State Physical Planning and Development Regulations, 2005, which is a subsisting document, clearly states that a signboard shall be erected at every construction site in the state, there seems to be laxity on the part of officials for the enforcement of the law.
According to the section, every construction site must have a signboard showing; the building development permit number; title of project, name and address of the owner as well as name and address of consultants and agents.But investigations revealed that a number of building sites are without the requisite signboards in total disregard of the extant regulation.
In some instance, professionals on site claimed that the boards were erected but were removed on the prompting of their clients.A quantity surveyor involved in the construction of a seven-storey building construction in Ikeja, affirmed that erection of signboards was a standard practice but said he was asked to remove the board by his client.The surveyor, who pleaded for anonymity, claimed that the building has all the necessary approvals only that the owner do not want to be linked to it for now.
He said: “ I could not do otherwise but to protect him in other not to lose my client”.But Moses Ogunleye, both a former president of Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON) and the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), said it is a requirement backed by law.According to him, the project board is required so that the public will know those involved in projects and the owners so that you will know if they are using good professionals or not.
“You can get these information in a project board.There should be nothing to hide, if you are a registered professional, then you should ensure that it is followed to the letter.
“ If it is a law, contravenors should be prosecuted along with other contraventions like building without permits and others”, he said.Ogunleye also stressed that the issue was also raised as a major requisite at the tribunal against building collapse and there was agreement that the board must be in place.
Also, an architect and developmental expert, Lookman Oshodi said, the erection of project board is a product of building law and regulations and not out of practice.Oshodi, a Commonwealth Professional Fellow and Project Director of Arctic Infrastructure (AI) said, it is a standard practice and part of the new building code.Stressing that there is no exemption to the rule, he said it is the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LABSCA) job to ensure full compliance as well as prosecute offenders who contravened the law being a product of law.
According to him, if it is the law, offenders should be prosecuted, it is only that many people did not know the gravity of the offence.But spokesperson of the Agency, Mrs. Titi Ajirotutu said, though it is required that all building sites should have project boards stating their approval plans and other details, it, however did warrant prosecution.
According to her, the reason for the signboard is for officials to easily assess the authenticity of claims by developers as they can check in the archives to know whether the claims are true or false.On why the law is not being enforced, Mrs. Ajirotutu said, it is enforced but some times individuals house owners may not have money to hire professionals but officials always inquire from those on site to know whether the buildings have the required approval before they are allowed to continue with the project.
“If we don’t see any thing we just seal up the place for contravention”, she said.Stressing further, she said, owners of massive buildings should ensure that project boards are in place, but if they do not put it, we can not prosecute them for not putting the board.“So far that they have approvasl and have qualified professionals there, it is not the law that they have to be prosecuted for not erecting the board. “Our own is to ensure that they comply with the regulations and building approvals, but it is not in the law for them to be prosecuted if they don’t have the project boards”, she added.
Also, the General Manager of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), Nurudeen Olalekan Shodeinde said the offence is not a grievous offence.Although, he did not state what the penalty is, he however said the penalty is not fundamental as other contraventions. It is not a heavy contravention but the law said they should not do that. If it is massive building, they have to do it, they have approval but we cannot prosecute them.
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