In recent times, Nigeria has experienced incidents of collapsed building which have claimed many lives and damaged properties worth billions of naira. The negative effect of building collapse on the socio-economic life of Nigerian citizens leaves much to be desired.
Although building collapse occurs in many parts of the world, the rate of occurrence in Nigeria, especially in the past few years, with good environment and weather condition when compared with other countries of the world, demands an urgent intervention.
Reports have shown that between 2000 and 2010, 476 incidents of building collapse occurred in Nigeria claiming over 300 lives, with the highest causalities recorded in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. Similarly, a high rate of building collapse was recorded in 2014 when a greater number of people lost their lives. Also, building collapse occured in 2016 with the most devastating being the collapse of Reigners' Bible Church on December 10, 2016 in the state capital, Uyo.
As if that was not enough, in 2019, 43 incidents of building collapse was recorded in Nigeria. One of such incidents was the collapse of the five-storey building at No. 63, Massey Street on Lagos Island on March 13, 2019, killing over 20 people who were mostly school children.
To curb these menance, the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) and other critical stakeholders in the built environment have decided to set aside March 13 every year to mark as a Builders' Day to remember and to honour all those who lost their lives through such incident and other similar collapses in the past; as well as to create awareness among the generality of the people of the unique role of a builder in the building construction industry. This year's Builders' Day celebration which is the maiden edition took place on Friday, March 13, 2020 with the theme: Kick Out Building Collapse, Engage A Professional Builder.
As the saying goes, "Accidents do not just occur, they are caused. The same can be said of collapsed buildings that "buildings do not collapse on paper to kill people. Buildings collapse during or after construction.
Unfortunately, various reasons have been deduced causes of building collapse by both professionals and non-professionals in the industry. Howbelt, one of the major causes of collapsed building is non-engagement of the right professional to handle the construction processes. In as much as there is non-compliance to appropriate quality management such as adopting the right construction methodology, appropriate quality management plan/control, health and safety plan, etc which can only be done by a builder, the fight to end the building collapse in the country will only be a mirage.
Building production management is the key role of the builder. This role confers on him the responsibility to manage the building construction processes on site, plan and prepare programme of works, ensuring delivery within cost and time limits, that the standard and quality of the finished building suitably satisfies the requirements of the design specification, as well as the investment expectations of the client.
It is also worthy to note that the non-implementation and enforcement of enabling building regulations, example National Building Code, which set acceptable minimum standards to regulate the design, construction and maintenance of building for the purpose of protecting the health, safety, and general welfare of the building's users, has contributed to collapse of buildings.
The question is, who is a builder?
A builder is a person who has appropriate academic training in the science, technology and management process of producing and maintaining of buildings, as well as sufficient hands on experience and statutorily registered by the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON).
The role of a builder in building production is multifaceted. A builder is the professional at the centre of the physical construction of buildings. His role in the building development process in general is to construct the building. He does this by taking charge of the activities on a building construction site in translating documents which include pre-contract, contract, and post-contract documents into a physical structure. He uses his production management expertise to effectively manage the resources that would be deployed for the execution or the building projects. He is therefore expected to produce builders' production document such as Quality Management Plan, Health and Safety Management Plan, Programme of Work, and Construction Methodology that would be useful during the construction stages of the project.
The builder ensures an effective management of site by planning the site and the activities around the site, planning the construction activities that is expected to take place at the site, and implementing and executing the construction and effectively monitoring its progress. Other functions of a builder include preparation of buildability and maintainability analysis report, facility management of the finished product, building survey for the integrity of the building components, just to mention but a few.
The institute is calling on the state government to please enact and enforce an effective Urban Planning and Development Control Law with reference to the provision or the Building Code (NBC) that had set minimum acceptable standard to regulate the design construction and maintenance of buildings and the roles of each professional in the built environment.
The institute is also calling on the general public to always engage a professional builder in all building-related developments.
Bldr Akaninyene Umoh is a former chairman, Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Akwa Ibom State Chapter