The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babtunde Fashola, has urged operators in the built environment to improve their skills in order to reduce the frequency of building collapse being recorded across the country.
Fashola, who spoke at the 29th annual conference of the Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers in Abuja, also outlined some of the major causes of building collapse based on studies conducted by his ministry.
In his keynote address, the minister stressed that residential and commercial structures should be designed and constructed in a manner that would ensure structural stability, adding that Nigeria had recorded a fair share of collapse of engineering structures, especially buildings.
Fashola, who was represented by the Director of Engineering Services in the ministry, Mrs. Esther Okougha, said, “The issue of building collapse is of great concern to the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, because lives, properties and investments are lost and victims suffer permanent disabilities.
“One may ask why we have frequent building collapse in Nigeria. Some of the causes include lack of adequate specification, inadequate design, absence of or inadequate supervision by relevant agencies and experts, poor workmanship, use of fake and substandard building materials, poor and incorrect method of construction, and aging buildings.
“Although in Nigeria we don’t usually believe that a building can age, but truly it can age. Other causes include the use of unqualified contractors, non-adherence to building regulations and bye-laws, corruption and force majeure.”
The minister added that reliable statistics had shown that building collapse in Nigeria dated back to 1985 and had remained a challenge across the country.
“Therefore, the theme for this year’s conference, ‘Issues on Failure of Engineering Structures in Nigeria’, is not out of point,” he observed.
He noted that it was common knowledge that engineering structures were designed and constructed for specific purposes and stressed that such structures must be safe.
“History has shown that the effect of failure is very devastating. Therefore, a high level of skilled professionalism is needed to address the possible causes of structural failures, which may be at the stage of the design, construction or supervision,” Fashola said.
Earlier in his welcome address, the President, NIStructE, Mr. Oreoluwa Fadayomi, said the theme for the conference was chosen in order to discuss issues relating to the failure of engineering structures like buildings, roads, bridges, drains, culverts and dams.