When the 7-storey building collapsed at Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos on April 12, 2023, the holy month of Lent /Easter and Ramadan/Eid-El-Fitri seemed desecrated for developers.
However, for this incident to have occurred around this sacred period, an auspicious time to intensify the evangelism against building collapse and stir the conscience of those who are currently the domineering factor in the Nigerian Housing Sector is now!
Real estate and housing development have become an alternative booming business for investors following the collapse of the stock exchange and manufacturing in Nigeria. So many business-oriented people, who possess nil training in building construction, have flooded the nation’s construction sphere with little respect for professionalism and due process.
When there are no eligibility criteria, requirements or qualifications that restrict admission into a sensitive and critical sector, the consequence will endanger the much-cherished lives and property. And in ‘all comers affair’, where professional advice is hardly adhered to as profiteering is elevated above safety, compromise becomes the order of the day.
This abnormal and unacceptable situation became a concern to those of us in the built environment professional services. Town Planners, land surveyors, architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, builders and estate surveyors & valuers came together to form a coalition named Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG) in 2011. Of course, the membership was huge and well spread across different localities and reticulated into various cell formations.
The ubiquitousness of our members was to augment the low capacity of the government staff at monitoring the massive expanse of developed and rapidly developing built environments. The huge BCPG network enabled information on substandard building construction works and distressed buildings get to the notice of the relevant government staff. The system was result-oriented, effective, and still subsisted in a unity of purpose
When people are passionate about a cause, performance in a voluntary service becomes remarkable. What could have motivated BCPG members into doing a work that lacked material gains? In this global village, every building collapse causes incalculable damage to the reputation of the Nigerian built environment professional. He or she is regarded as inferior in the eye of foreign counterparts.
The price being paid by Nigerian construction professionals is high in image damage due to the activities of quacks. Hence, the earlier the menace of building collapse is put to rest, the better for the practitioners in the Nigerian building industry.
The spirit of giving back to the industry/society, where we earn our income, in order to uplift our professional image is a form of social responsibility that we naturally align with. Hence, we shall continue to expend our personal resources to fight causes of building collapse. Twelve years of collective, relentless and consistent service to humanity! Despite series of disappointments and discouragement, we cannot afford to give up. There is no man-made problem that defies solution.
The size of developers has become enormous, thereby overwhelming the government monitoring apparatus. 90 per cent of developers do not belong to the association and quite a number of them are very influential. The culture of inducement being promoted by many developers has encouraged compromise in the circles of government officials.
In light of the foregoing, we hereby appeal to developers to abide by the building regulations and engage the appropriate professionals in the pre-construction, construction and post-construction stages of the building. They should consider the risk involved in building construction more than the gains.
Developers embarking on multi-storey building construction should desist from direct labour methods and engage the services of reputable construction companies. It is a clever way of mortgaging risk. Saving cost at the expense of human life could result in huge financial losses, chorusing the foolhardiness of penny-wise pound-foolish.
We equally appeal to the government to lessen the burden on developers by reducing the high development fees and taxation. Expensive preliminary costs incurred in building plan approval etc tempt developers to cut corners/cheat.
Greed is the major weakness of most developers. We pray to God to help them overcome this evil spirit.
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Investment in the housing sector is a pertinent developmental contribution that provides appreciable returns. However, investment in buildings that will not stand the test of time, endangering the life of occupants is an investment in futility. Every developer should endeavour to deliver a building with the heart and intention of occupying it by himself or herself.
Any developer that is in doubt of the stability or quality of building(s) already constructed by him or her should have the courage to contact us for remedy. Keeping quiet might spell imponderable disaster for many.
It is pertinent to seize this opportunity to remind those handling building projects for their relations and friends in the diaspora to bear in mind that God has a way of rewarding sincere people that do not engage in the diversion of project fund to the detriment of building production quality.
Morality and ethics can help raise the bar for our entire building industry.
Those who invest rightly are considered wise developers. May the developers in this clime become wise and lessen the fears of incessant building collapse.
May the Almighty God double your blessing as you build conscientiously.
Yusuf is national president- Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG).