How to eradicate building collapse in Nigeria –Architect Ogbonna

How to eradicate building collapse in Nigeria –Architect Ogbonna

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Nigeria needs to strengthen existing regulation for monitoring construction processes to eradicate the incessant cases of building collapse nationwide, Architect Mrs Felicia Ogbonna has advocated.

Ogbonna, the Managing Director of Bonna Diesenhaus International and a fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, who made the suggestion weekend in Lagos, also advised property owners to engage the services of qualified Structural Engineers whose duty is to ensure the structural integrity of every building rather than resort cutting corners.

She insisted that all stages of the building plan approval process must be strictly adhered to and followed to minute details by developers as part of renewed collective efforts by the government and the citizenry to totally eliminate incidents of collapse buildings that had claimed many lives in the past.

Ogbonna, who is a fellow of The National Home Builders Registration Council of South Africa as well as The Estate Agency Affairs Board of South Africa, in a statement further advocated adequate funding for universities offering architecture in Nigeria to place them in good stead of taking more intakes and training them while those who have graduated should be well remunerated.

According to her, “Structural Engineers are in charge of the structural integrity of a building, and it is imperative that clients utilize their services professionally without cutting corners. Also, all the stages of the approval process must be adhered to and followed to minute details. Cutting of corners and bribing of officials in order to skip stages only result in exposing the structure to risk of damage and collapse if the right calculations for the loading have not been undertaken.

“Situations where welders, iron-benders and bricklayers are the ones taking decisions on certain projects, while the engineers who designed the structures have been paid off or neglected in the construction phase is totally wrong and should be avoided.

There are some owners who get so involved in the construction because it’s he who pays the piper that dictates the tune adding that “sometimes, the culprits are the owners of the project themselves and when it collapses, they will then blame the structural engineer who was not part of the construction throughout or had even been let go at design stage.

Continuing, the architect stated “If we can regulate and inspect the critical stages of construction like before you pour the concrete, before you put the slabs, then we will be able to mitigate this problem. Also, regulation on material standards need to be enacted, enforced and adhered to at every stage, with frequent material testing”.

On the need to increase the number of students intakes for architecture in the nation’s universities, she explained that adequate funding constitutes one of the key problems in the tertiary institutions as the lack of this hampers exposure from field trips, access to resource material and technology, and adequate R & D (research and development).

“Adequate funding is one of the areas that can help these institutions to take on more intakes and train them. In Nigeria as well, when they graduate, we don’t give them a chance to express themselves and guide them and that is also a problem. We need to make sure that we have enough resources to train these architects and encourage them in terms of renumeration”.

On addressing the problem of quackery in the profession, Ogbonna said even though building regulations do exist, the government needed to strengthen such regulations and legislation, adding that it is important to make adequate provision for stage-by-stage inspections before progression of the project and provide adequate mobility for the inspectors to be able to execute their duties without fear or favour, affection or ill will.

“Also, adequate renumeration of officials is important so they do not get tempted to take bribes and cut corners. The existing laws can also be strengthened against quacks so as to discourage their inadequate practices”, she added.

Ogbonna, who also a director of Bonna Vocation Institute based in South Africa, said its major objective is to inspire, empower and guide young entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams in the different fields of human endeavours.

“We empower and equip young people. I feel that it is in letting them know that they can do it and not just motivating them but showing them how to do it. That has been one of my greatest motivations and drive to see these people. The younger generation needs encouragement. They need to be shown how to succeed. It is not that difficult, If you do it by example. That’s what Bonna Vocation Institute is all about”, she noted.

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