Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, COREN, has taken practical steps aimed at curtailing the high incidence of collapse of buildings in the country.
President of the body, Mr. Ibikunle Ogunbayo, stated at a news briefing to herald the 21st Engineering Assembly in Abuja that COREN has set up a monitoring committee to ensure proper supervision of building sites as the cause of the collapse of structures is that what is approved is usually not what is put on ground by developers who under-utilises the needed materials. To check this malaise, he said: “We have an engineering monitoring committee. The duty is to ensure that on every site there are competent personnel who ensure that the site is properly being supervised. We have the register of engineering personnel so that when you as a builder or as a client want to build something, you don’t go through a quack.”
Noting that there are all kinds of failures in engineering industry, he said: “The biggest problem we have is that like everything else in this country, there are people who do things that they are not competent to do; there are people who take on design of buildings when they don’t have the competence; there are people who are building multi-storey apartments but who don’t have the skill. So, it’s not about engineering; it’s about a national attitude. It is about people who get approval to build a 20-srorey building without piles in a swampy area. Somebody approved that. We as engineers feel very bad about that.”
The solution, according to COREN Registrar, Mr. Felix Atume, is this: “Any time there is a collapsed building, let everybody involved be rounded up. Who approved? Who is constructing? You will discover as we have discovered that in most times, apart from the approval that is given by engineers, nobody involves the professional again, who is now responsible? It is the law! You cannot do that and get away with it. We are not the law. COREN can only follow the procedure. If we discover that engineering personnel are involved, they are sanctioned. But in most cases, engineers are not involved in the implementation.”
Ogunbayo explained that COREN ensures that all engineering personnel (engineers, engineering technologists and engineering craftsmen) are certified before being allowed to practice.He added: “If you come to us and say this is the person I want to use for my building; is he a qualified person? The Registrar is here; he will look through the register and say that person is not registered. If you are doing a project and you give it to just anybody you find on the street, and you expect him to perform well, it is wrong. So we all have a role to play. COREN will control engineering but we as a nation must also ensure that we only use people who are qualified and competent to perform the role we want to do.”
The COREN president and the Registrar said it is the Development Control that gives the approval and should be the ones to ensure that what they approved is exactly what is put on ground.
“We have noticed over the years that they don’t have adequate manpower to monitor all the construction going on,” Ogunbayo said. “We suggested they should engage consultants so that what is approved is what is built.”
Atume added: “Every building is expected to get approval from Development Control department of that state or town. In Abuja, you are expected to get approval from Development Control of the FCDA. In most cases, if it is a storey building, it must be designed by engineers, that is, the structural engineer designs the strength, the mechanical and electrical engineers are involved.
“When this is done, then the approval will be practically on ground; that means the people that are going to supervise the approval must be competent people, competent engineers, builders and architects. What has been happening as the major cause of collapsed buildings is that the approvals are correct but when the developer goes to the site, he ignores what has been approved. He now brings in quacks to do what he wants; maybe he goes to do under-reinforcement, weak concrete, and then there is collapse.”
The theme of this year’s conference had the theme, “Engineering Capacity, Integrity and National transformation,” with focus on infrastructure, among other things.