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Women builders collaborate to curb building collapse

Women builders collaborate to curb building collapse

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Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi

Women in the built environment have said there is a need for professionals to work together and curb cases of building collapse in the country.

The female builders, under the auspices the Association of Professional Women Builders in Nigeria, during their inaugural seminar, noted that lack of integration of all professionals in the built environment right from the design stage to completion of projects, remained one of the major problems of the industry.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the seminar with the theme ‘Collaboration among women professionals of the built environment to curb/eradicate incessant building collapse in Nigeria’, the association identified the non-use of survey plan and other necessary information as a guide during construction and compromise of integrity by professionals on the quality of materials and workmanship as some of the problems that could lead to building collapse.

Others issues that should be addressed, they noted, were lack of collaboration in enforcement of the laws that could eradicate building collapse;  lack of understanding of the behaviour of materials used for construction; commencement of projects before arriving at the cost; and the idea of copying and pasting specifications and budgets of old contracts for new ones.

They also identified awarding contracts to contractors with low sum; long process of getting approvals as well as high cost involved; lack of quality control, quality assurance and health and safety plans and lack of maintenance in buildings as issues to be tackled.

The Chairperson, Women Association of Quantity Surveyors of Nigeria, Aderonke Oyelami, said building collapse remained the most critical aspect of building failure.

She said, “Building collapse is the most severe form of structural failure in a building and even the enactment of law that any landed property on which any building collapses shall be forfeited by their owners to the state government has not fully achieved the desired result of an overwhelming reduction in the rate of building collapse.

“Unfortunately, however, these disasters are, more often than not, man-made and avoidable, rather than ‘force-majeure’ (act of God) occurrences. Whilst the professional that is charged with the responsibility of ensuring building stability is the registered structural engineer, who has the professional obligation to analyse, design and supervise the structure, all professionals within the built environment are expected to have, as a denominating factor, the knowledge of building technology and structural stability.”

Oyelami stated that besides collaboration, the government and professionals, any building that is above 10 years should be subjected to structural conditional survey to determine the structural integrity of the building.

According to her, the government should also embark on public enlightenment on the prevention and management of fire hazards that could lead to building collapse when they occur if adequate steps are not taken.

“It is better, more economical and reasonable to stop weak buildings from being constructed beyond foundation level than to pull them down or rehabilitate them after the system indirectly permits their existence. I am convinced that if all the recommendations are looked into and applied appropriately, the state and nation would have, to a large extent, resolved the issue of building collapse,” she said.

The President, APWBN, Mrs Lami Muhammad, stated that one way forward was the maintenance of buildings, which should be done periodically to help retain buildings in functioning order.

According to Muhammed, there should also be enforcement of existing laws and sanctions for offenders.

“Women are endowed with integrity, intelligence, intuition, and expert management techniques amongst other numerous qualities. I am therefore respectfully requesting that being expert managers of the home front, we should all unite and bring all these qualities to bear on our various professional roles, by communicating, cooperating, coordinating and collaborating our activities  to prevent building collapse in Nigeria.

“These terrible building collapse incidences have continued to cause the death of innocent people, physical disabilities for life, and destruction of property in colossal amounts as well as the threatening the sustainability of our built environment.”

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