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Professionals task FG, states on haphazard developments

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The President, Association of Town Planning Consultants of Niyi, (ATOPCON), Niyi Odetoye


•Urge integrity test for Abule Ado buildings

To avert further urban shocks and disasters, housing professionals have advised the Federal and State governments to design action plans aimed at effectively curbing haphazard development in areas proximal to right of way and setbacks.

They posited that with the massive destruction following Abule Ado explosion, majority of buildings in the area could have become defective hence, the need for re-planning of the area and pulling down of structures that must have become structurally defective.

The experts who were flustered by the explosion which took place in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos, called for proper planning of cities and adequate provision for spaces in such a way that building won’t be developed close to pipeline facilities, high tension cables, canals, water fronts and other disaster prone locations.

The explosion, which occurred two Sunday ago, rocked neighboring areas, with smoke rising into the sky and buildings including properties worth millions of naira destroyed. Preliminary reports indicated that at least 17-bodies were recovered, while 25 casualties are being treated for injuries from the disaster.

The President, Association of Town Planning Consultants of Niyi, (ATOPCON), Niyi Odetoye while speaking to The Guardian observed that, “If the area has been properly planned, there would have been adequate provision for spaces in such a way that buildings won’t be developed so close to the pipeline alignment. That is the major issue the Lagos State is having generally and almost every part of the nations’ urban centres. We develop haphazardly and once that is done, it becomes a major challenge when there is urban shock and occurrence of disaster.”

Odetoye said the buildings that were affected in the disaster should be pulled down because they are already defective with such magnitude of crisis and there would be structural defects in the buildings.

He noted that pulling down the buildings is a liability that the government would have to bear stating that although it wasn’t clear whether the buildings have documents from the government.

“Government should be human enough to ensure that those situations are efficiently managed in such a way that those that lost so much are well taking care of. It’s a natural disaster, and so government should see it as part of its social responsibility to take care of those that are affected. It may not be a sort of compensation b rehabilitation, and resettlement. We could see from the response of the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu that he has set up a fund and that is the way it should be. It is a disaster that nobody prays for and so those affected should be able to go on with life.”

A past President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Bunmi Ajayi suggested that integrity test should be carried out on all structures within the impacted areas to determine the stability of the building otherwise a pull down action should be implemented.

According to him, however stable a building might be, if there were a stronger force, it would fall stressing that isn’t a question of defective building materials or construction methods used for the development of the structures.

“ Some people said they heard the sound of the explosion in Ota. Vibrations will weaken buildings. If it hasn’t weakened it to the extent of having to be demolished, then such building should be spared. Am so happy with the states’ government reaction because the government came in with a N2bn endowment fund and put down immediately N250 million, that hasn’t happened in Nigeria before. Part of the money could be utilized to clear the rubbles and whatever they want to do, the place should be re-planned and I expect that government should compensate the building owners”.

He stated that the right of ways of oil pipeline, and road has been defined and Nigerians are not supposed to build within such designated locations.

The president of Building Collapse Prevention Guild, (BCPG) Akinola George emphasised that there is need for continuous advocacy, engagement and affirmative actions with all critical stakeholders on doing the right vis-à-vis the nations’ construction sector.

“We have being saying this all along that people shouldn’t build close to railway line, water bodies, high tension cables and pipelines. There are building standards for construction when your site is close to such places. Government has already given out setbacks and air spaces that must be observed and so when you don’t observe those standards, disasters like Abule Ado are bound to happen. When you build and don’t have approvals for your construction, disasters like these are bond to happen. What happened at the area could be scientifically explained, the buildings collapsed from the roofs and not collapsing of structures from the foundation. Most of the houses have their roofs blown off.”

Akinola, an architect painted a clear picture of the disaster, “The gas in that area got trapped as a result of the cool atmosphere and when gas and smoke mixed they get trapped in the atmosphere like we had that Sunday. Observation two there is a pipeline in the neighborhood and probably people have been vandalizing it overtime. A particular truck came and maybe got stoked in the hole where the pipeline has been vandalised and in the process of struggling to get itself out compromised the pipeline and fire erupted and when fire erupted, it ignited the trapped gas in the air and the trapped gas exploded and that is why most of the houses got blown off from the roof because it was gas trapped in the air that exploded. When something like this happens, it’s like a small nuclear explosion”.

He surmised that while the total numbers of destroyed houses couldn’t be ascertained established the sound impact of the blast went as far as 10km radius, the destruction impact was from 5km to 10km because a lot of people had their window plane blasted in some far away places while the epicenter of the massive destruction was under 5kmetres.He also suggested an integrity analysis of buildings in the location to determine whether to pull down the structures or not.

“Of course the Lagos State government has a Standing Order as to when there is a collapse like this, without authorised construction, they usually take over such properties. But in this particular instance, let’s assume that they have approvals. Government has to compensate and assist from a humanitarian level and government has a prerogative to take decisions whether to compensate or not”.

The BCPG president declared that if the property owners didn’t infringe on the area, they should have the right to take back their properties at appropriate the time.


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