In 2019, there were 43 recorded building collapses in Nigeria. 43. This is an embarrassing number. Shameful. What makes it so bad is that there was a tremendous amount of suffering and lives lost in the rubble of these demised buildings. There is no exact number of dead, but estimates are above 50.
I am sure we all remember the heartbreaking story of the Lagos school collapse that claimed more than 20 lives – such a sad scene.
The scourge of building collapses and the unwillingness or incompetence of local and national officials to tackle is a major problem in Nigeria that needs to be addressed immediately.
On one hand we build and erect massive and modern structures that compete with any on an international level, and the other hand, we let other buildings rot, corrode and eventually collapse with devastating consequences.
There seems to be an unwillingness to allocate resources to agencies that are responsible for code enforcement and inspection of buildings under construction or those that are inhabited. These are basic and fundamental scopes that should be on the forefront of any serious municipality that has the interests of its citizens are heart.
Lagos State saw the most structure collapses with 17. Anambra recorded 6 while a slew of other states logged the rest. More than half of these structures were inhabited and the rest were under construction. Some were partial collapses but most were full cave-ins.
The scarier part is that there is an estimate 36 thousand structures that are in danger of demise, and the fact that there does not seem to be concerted effort to attack these problems head on.
Compounding this is the dismal search and rescue agencies and first responders that are ill equipped to handle the onslaught of the these tragedies. Many lives could have been saved if these services came promptly and had the proper excavation and life saving equipment that is needed.
Without proper code enforcement, or issuance of building permits, and regulation of the construction industry in Nigeria, these disasters will continue to happen. The absence of government bodies regulating the building trades across the country creates a void and vacuum where resourceful and desperate people take matters into their own hands and build haphazard properties with no adherence to basic engineering principles or codes.
Construction companies that are found not abiding by the law should be heavily fined or jailed and individuals too should be held accountable for skirting the law when building or squatting in structures that have not been inspected.
We will continue to report on this issue, and we hope that we see a decline in collapses, but if the past is a predictor or the future – we may be disappointed.