A spike in number of building collapse with lives lost in Nigeria, especially Lagos, is a grave source of concern. This is inspite of repeated calls by victims, experts and many other Nigerians, there seems to be no end to the tragedy. The most recent being that of 24 Ibadan Street in Ebute Metta, a densely populated neighbour hood in Lagos, were ten people lot their lives.
When will there be an end to this sad tale? After the collapse of the Synagogue building belonging to Synagogue Church of All Nations in the Ikotun area of Lagos on September 12, 2014, with death toll of 116, Nigerians had imagined something drastic would be done to end this scourge. They were mistaken.
Collapse of Lekki Gardens, a seven floor building in March 2016 claimed about 34 lives; collapse of a 21-storey building in Ikoyi, Lagos in November 1, 2021, killed 45 people, including the developer, and several others before these, are disturbing.
Although there are laws regulating construction in the state, observers are of the opinion that buildings have continued to come down in states like Lagos, because those at the helm lack the political will to enforce the laws.
According to a former vice president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Monday Ubani, the Lagos State government was failing in its responsibilities.
“In the case of the building that collapsed in Ebute Metta, I understand that the structure was not strong enough and notices were served. Why were those notices not enforced? That is why the residents remained there until it collapsed.”
The Lagos State government says it has continued to monitor building production in the state and had also ordered the prosecution of some developers, as in the case of the three-storey building under construction that collapsed in Onike area of the state killing two persons.
According to the spokesman of Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mukaila Sanusi, the commissioner of the ministry, Idris Salako, ordered arrest and prosecution of the developer.
“It is hoped that his prosecution would send a strong warning to all recalcitrant developers that it was mandatory to build right and engage professionals in constructing buildings in Lagos State as we will not hesitate to bring to book whoever errs against the law.”
The president of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, Enyi Ben-Eboh said shortcuts, lack of due diligence, and ineffectual regulation are the primary reasons behind the frequency of building collapses in Lagos.
Ben-Eboh stated this recently at the thirteenth edition of Lagos Architects Forum titled, ‘The City of Lagos — What is Lagos?’ The forum was organised by the Lagos State Branch of the Nigerian Institute of Architects to canvass solutions to prevailing issues in the building industry.
Speaking during a media chat at the forum, Ben-Eboh said due to Lagos’s population size and high demand for real estate, most practitioners have developed a habit of circumventing due process.