Building Collapse: Rethinking Quality Assessment In Building Construction And Facility Assessment.
For many decades, Nigeria has been plagued with occasional building collapses which has claimed innocent lives.
Sadly, the recent unfortunate, needless loss of lives of little primary school kids at the Lagos Island School building at Itafagi, Lagos Island which collapsed, causing dozens of casualties is a call for more responsibility by both private and public stakeholders to ensure the preservation of lives going forward.
As many stakeholders continue to call for a policy roadmap to ensure that grievous fatalities such as the Itafagi collapse would be avoided completely. This article proposes a paradigm shift in quality control and assurance in tackling the incessant collapse of buildings in Nigeria.
Quality Control at Conceptualization of Construction Projects
The base of any common sense regulation must go into place at the planning stage of any building project. This is the point where property developers, owners should present their building plans to government regulators to ensure that building plans meet government's profile for the intended land. Indeed, various state governments and the federal government already have top notch paper policies on ensuring conformity to government's safety standards and regulation. This policies should be taken off the shelf and enforced maximally, especially at the conceptualization/planning. This wouldn't only prevent avoidable building collapse but would prevent needless litigations against the government and its regulators when they appear years after construction to demolish a structure that should never have existed.
Quality Control During Construction
This would appear to be where regulators fails construction processes and developers compromise standards the most. At first regulators must ensure that all Architects, Structural engineer working on any project are well experienced and registered with appropriate professional bodies such as ARCON, COREN, NIA, ESVARBON etc.
Regulators must pay scheduled and unscheduled visits to construction sites to ensure agreed parameters are being construction. And those materials in use are of good quality and of integrity.
Quality Control At Post Construction
Following completion of construction which conforms to standard, building regulators should present an initial certificate of compliance which certifies conformity with building codes and standards of the local and federal government. Following a certificate of compliance is a certificate of worthiness which gives a statement on the annual state of facilities and whether property owners/developers are maintaining the facility properly. Laws must equally be established prohibiting the unfettered alteration of building use. If building use must be altered then owners must work in consonance with regulators to ensure safety of human lives is not compromised.
Policies on retirement of buildings must not be left behind either. At the stage of planning, the developers and regulators must agree on the life span of their structures. Regulators must ensure that there is a top notch process that sees to the demolition of buildings which has outlived its shelf life.