Fashola seeks rapid response team to curb building collapse

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

Nigeria’s Minister of power, works and housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has called for the establishment of a building collapse rapid response team, as part of measures to curb the incidences of building collapse in the country.

Mr. Fashola who made this call on Wednesday during a public hearing on the need to prosecute building laws violators, said the rapid response team would include all the seven regulatory bodies in the building/construction industry, and security agencies.

The Minister who was represented by the Director in charge of public buildings in the ministry, Mr. Umar Aliyu, expressed worry that the enforcement of building codes and regulations are done by the various 36 state agencies, while that of the FCT is executed by the Federal government.

“I wish to assure you that if these simple steps are taken, they would go a long way in ensuring that building collapse if not completely eliminated, is reduced to the barest minimum,” the Minister advocated.

In a separate presentation, the Nigerian Society of Engineers recommended that all states in Nigeria should be encouraged to have implementable development plans to stop the practice whereby different families erect houses based on their self determined building plan which often do not comply with the national building code.

President of the Senate Dr. Bukola Saraki while declaring the public hearing open, assured Nigerians that the National Assembly will do its best to ensure the speedy passage of the National Building Code, and make certain that the necessary legal frameworks are passed and more aggressive oversight scheme employed to forestall the continued reoccurrence of building collapse.

Senator Saraki who was represented at the event by the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, emphasized that all hands must be on deck, as part of national efforts to reduce to the barest minimum, all forms of building collapse.

“Therefore, we must embark on proactive steps by mustering enough political will to allow the town planning authorities perform their functions unfettered. As politicians, stakeholders, the press, members of the civil society, organisations and Nigerians, we all have various roles to play in tackling building collapse phenomenon in Nigeria.”

He added that “building construction is a delicate, sophisticated and complex process; where failures to adhere strictly to laid-down procedures can only amount to an avoidable huge damage and loss of lives.

“This, we can no longer afford, all concerned individuals in building construction should ensure that they acquire adequate training and knowledge to understand the techniques of construction so as to reduce and subsequently eliminate these housing disasters,” he further stated.

The one day public hearing was organized by the senate committee on lands, housing and urban development, following a recent motion at plenary on the need to prosecute building laws violators in Nigeria.