CORBON, NIOB, Other Professionals Seek Solution to Building Collapse

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Bennett Oghifo

The Chairman of the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON), Professor Kabir Bala, has charged construction sector professionals to update their knowledge continually to stem incidences of building collapse in the country.

Bala, who is also the Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria noted that the issue of building collapse in Nigeria continues to be a concern for builders and other professionals, underscoring the need to continue to update knowledge in order to fully maintain best practices.

The vice chancellor gave the advice at a webinar organised by the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), during which he and other professionals in the construction sector proffered solution to the incessant collapse of buildings in the country.

This NIOB’s first ever national virtual workshop held from July 15 -16, 2020, because of the combined effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to address building production and construction challenges in Nigeria, according to the President of NIOB, Kunle Awobodu.

He said the workshop was one of the Institute’s “practical and proactive steps towards addressing the unwarranted and embarrassing menace of building collapse in Nigeria.”

The workshop addressed critical knowledge and practice areas in foundation design and construction; structural analysis and design of buildings; software application in the design of building structural system; structural failure in buildings; design of concrete mix and field applications; builders and formwork design in building construction; and detailing of structural elements in buildings, including practical experience sharing on building projects.

The workshop, which also addressed building production and structural stability, was attended by eminent personalities, including builders, intending builders, engineers, other built environment professionals, technocrats, policy makers and political actors from within and outside Nigeria.

Former ministers, top government functionaries, political actors, private sector practitioners attended the workshop. Bala Kaoje, a former Minister of Sports, Professor Kolapo Olusola Eleka, immediate past Deputy Governor of Ekiti State, including many past presidents of the NIOB were present.

The Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Lagos State Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, the Lagos State Building Control Agency, and Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory were among organisations that attended the virtual workshop.

A past President of the Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers, Dr. Victor Oyenuga called for the Nigerian Annex to the Eurocode for structural design. He equally called on academic and research institutions to investigate the engineering properties of local stones in Nigeria, especially in the South Eastern states.

“This would be useful to guide design of concrete mixes and corresponding construction,” he said.

Graham Teede, a past senior National Vice President of the Australian Institute of Building and an advisory board member of the South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP) presented various types of foundation and approaches to handling them. He indicated need and readiness for further collaboration between the Australian Institute of Building and the NIOB for greater efficiency and improved performance in the Nigerian building industry.

Abimbola Windapo, an Associate Professor in the Department of Construction Economics and Management, University of Cape Town, cited examples from South Africa and called for the mandatory use of documents such as construction methodology, prepared by professional builders, for managing the building construction process.

She further called for procurement methods that integrate the inputs of design and construction professionals from the design and planning stages for public projects.

Kunle Adebajo, the Managing Director of Ove Arup & Partners Nigeria Limited and a past president of the Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers emphasised the need for team work to realise the building project.

He highlighted some areas of interest or concern during construction of buildings on site.

Tope Ilusanmi and Gangaram Chennamsetti, experts in precast and ready mix concrete who are also the Technical Manager/Team Lead for Lafarge Concrete Business Unit, explained their various concrete mix solutions.

Professor Olabode Ogunsanmi of the Department of Building, University of Lagos, recapped the first principles and theory of structural analysis as the basis of structural design and subsequent applications in construction.

Abdussamad Ismail, an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, Bayero University, Kano highlighted concepts of foundation design, while Dr. Babatunde Olawuyi, an expert in concrete mix design and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Building, Federal University of Technology, Minna, explained the principles and fundamentals of concrete mix design.

Akaninyene Umoh, an Associate Professor of Building, University of Uyo discussed the US Department of Environment approach to concrete mix design.

Other speakers, who took their turns to give insightful presentation to the audience, included Larrison Towoh, Head of Design for Peri Formwork Limited; Dr Sunusi Gambo of the Department of Building, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and Yakubu David Anda, a builder and information communication technology expert.

Mrs. Aramide Adeyoye, an engineer and Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructure to the Lagos State Governor, commended the organisers of the virtual workshop in a period of COVID-19 pandemic, stating that it was the way to go at this time.

The General Manager of the Lagos State Building Control Agency, Abiola Kosegbe, an engineer equally appreciated the NIOB for organising the workshop and further sought the cooperation of professional bodies in the built environment in the realisation of the mandate of the building control agency.

Other speakers, who hailed the laudable idea of the workshop, included Jimi Hotonu, Permanent Secretary at the Lagos State Ministry of Infrastructure and Dr. Abiodun Afolabi, the General Manager of the Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory.

The two day well-attended event ended with workshop participants calling for more synergy between the structural engineer and the builder who are both saddled with the responsibility for the stability of buildings on the one hand and increased collaboration among built environment professionals, on the other hand, for the benefit of the society.

The workshop reiterated that registered builders are the professionals empowered by training and law to manage building production processes in Nigeria and thus need to remain abreast of fundamental principles of mechanics and other principles of science and technology and their applications. The workshop further called on the Nigerian government to revive its steel industry for production of standard steel inputs such as reinforcement and steel formworks for construction.

In his comments on the event, Dr. Samaila Adamu, the Secretary of the Research and Development Committee of the NIOB, said the virtual workshop was impactful and had achieved its lofty goals and objectives.

According to participants, the workshop was remarkable in its reach, scope, and inputs. Its outcome has the potentials for altering the built environment landscape for the better. In his closing remarks, Sir Alderton Ewa, Chairman of the Professional Development and Practice Committee of NIOB appreciated the synergy demonstrated by the professionals that attended the workshop.