Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, Monday enjoined Nigerian professionals in the Built Industry to imbibe global standard practices in the design and building of houses in the country, saying whenever and wherever a building collapses, it is an indication that a professional in the industry has compromised standards.
Governor Fashola, who spoke when members of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners paid him a courtesy visit at the Lagos House, Alausa, expressed dismay that there are still cases of building collapse in spite of the fact that the Government has provided the regulations and guidelines as well as set the standards.
Urging all of the professionals in the Built Industry to wake up and do their work appropriately, Fashola said his administration has also introduced multi-layer approvals in order to check that the professionals have done the right things adding, however, that if there are things still missing they should bring them up so that they can be incorporated into the guidelines.
The Governor noted that because government could not be at every construction site at the same time literally, there was need for the professionals to imbibe the tenets adding, “It is a question of the values that we choose as a people; do we want to just be patching and just get by, just manage? It speaks a lot about the quality of life that we choose for ourselves”.
According to Fashola, Government was able to clearly separate town planning and urban development planning work from monitoring construction through the 2010 Town Planning Law adding, however, that although the provisions of the Law were capable of nipping some of the problems in design, design scrutiny, calculations for loads bearing structures in the bud, some of those problems still persist
He asked the professionals, “What then happens if we get all of the acts right. Are you building according to specification? Have you obtained permit to build in a particular way and you are building in another way? Are you using the right gauge of steel that you got approval for or you are using inferior rods? Are you using the right aggregate of cement as approved or are you using the wrong specification?”
Noting that government buildings are not coming down as much as private buildings, Fashola declared, “The truth is that whether government buildings come down or private building come down, what is true is that it is the professionals who have dropped the ball”.
“Government, as an artificial legal entity is not the one responsible for this collapse. It is individuals like you and me, men and women who have broken rules. And if buildings put up by Europeans are still standing 70 – 80 years after they were built, something must be wrong and this generation must be provoked to self-examination anger”, he said.
The Governor cited the Cocoa House in Ibadan, Oyo State, as an example of such buildings which has stood the test of time pointing out that if the house built many years ago could still stand while those built 20 years ago are coming down, something must be wrong.
He charged the Town Planners, “For you in the built industry, if we really want to move forward, these cutting corners must stop. When other countries are building 120 storey buildings, we don’t even have a 40 storey building in Nigeria and we are still engaging in cutting corners”.
Fashola, who also enjoined the Town Planners to assist Government in enlightening the people on how to live in a city, pointed out that life in a city and that in rural setting are different adding that Government’s efforts in this direction seem not to be enough in making the people live decently in the city.
According to the Governor, even in the midst of housing shortages, “communities are unwilling to have a block of 12 flats in their areas and they are resisting and I begin to wonder, what is going on wrong?” He added that in terms of managing cities, the rule for living in cities is different from the rules that apply in rural settings.
On the collapsed building at the Synagogue Church of all Nations, Fashola, who described it as unfortunate, said his administration has indicated its intention to investigate adding that because investigation is painstaking and scientific, it would take time to come to the right conclusion.
He frowned at the situation where people have started apportioning blames and arriving at conclusions, including the number of deaths, without allowing those professionally qualified to conclude investigations and come out with the right submission.
The Governor recalled that the Attorney General of the State has set up a Coroner Court to look into the matter adding, “That is the appropriate Court to handle this kind of investigations when people die in such a tragic and unnatural circumstances and I think that we must just allow that investigation to go on”.
“That is how we must proceed and I think the investigations will be helped if we refrain from any further comments on the matter. This is the way that every civilized society proceeds and we must assume that all the necessary provisions of the law must be complied with; that is our track record here and nothing less will happen in this case. That is the minimum that every Government must do”, the Governor said.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the National President of NITP, TPL Steve Onu , commended the Governor for the great work of infrastructural transformation in Lagos as well as the decision to engage many of their members in the governance of the State.
Expressing pride at identifying with the State Government, the National President particularly commended the administration for the establishment of the Lagos Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme which, according to him, has brought a unique structure in the city of Lagos.