Engineers List Causes of Incessant Building Collapses in Nigeria

1

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

Structural engineers under the aegis of Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (NIStructE) have blamed frequent collapse of buildings, bridges and roads in the country on poor design, use of substandard materials, obsolete structures and deployment of quacks in the execution of projects.

The engineers described the situation as distressing and disturbing, urging the governments at different levels to work closely with the professionals to rid the country of quacks.

They expressed this concern during a pre-event briefing in Abuja to herald the annual conference and 33rd annual general meeting of the Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (NIStructE).

The engineers also bemoaned the preference for expatriates to local skills, saying Nigerians could stand shoulder to shoulder with their counterparts anywhere.

At the briefing, National President of the institution, Dr. Kehinde Osifala said NIStructE would continue its advocacy throughout the country to curb the menace.

He said: “It is a big challenge. We need to step up advocacy so that people will know they should consult an engineer and not quacks. We need to take our advocacy to the government.

“Who are those checking the design of these buildings? Are they competent? Are they registered? Do they have the requisite qualities?

“Most of the cases happen in Lagos. We need them to buy into our programmes. We have met with them and we have suggested that we are ready to collaborate to reduce these cases of collapses.”

He added: “Collapses are multi-dimensional. It could be due to failure of design or construction because you need to check these things painstakingly. Most of these things are not checked. Once Lagos buys into our programme, many other states will copy them.

“We have suggested that there should be a registered engineer to monitor every building under construction. But it is not only new buildings that are collapsing. Many of these buildings, especially in Isale-Eko have expired. But because we care less, the government and its agencies do not care.

“We need data showing the age of these buildings because on the average a building expires in 50 years. But some have been there for 60 to 70 years. Anytime I hear of a collapse, I get distressed. It is still the same old story.

“Developers cut corners by all means, government officials, engineers, if you are not worth your salt, they will corner you,” he said.

On preference for expatriates by the government, the association’s national president argued that some of the foreigners being brought in “are not even engineers, but technicians.”

According to him, though some of them are good, my suggestion is to partner with them so that they can share their expertise with us.

He observed that there “are competent Nigerians. The problem is opportunity. If you do not give them the opportunity, how will they prove themselves? We studied with some of them. They are not better than us.

“The Chinese will not release their best brains to come and work in Nigeria. They will retain them in their country. It’s the young boys that want to gain experience they will send here,” he maintained.

He said the conference was meant to afford stakeholders the opportunity to learn from one another and find effective ways of dealing with the present diverse challenges occasioned by the economic situation in the country.