Building collapse: Expert attributes problems to unskilled manpower

The site of the collapsed building PHOTO: Bertram Nwannekanma

The site of the collapsed building PHOTO: Bertram Nwannekanma

Hajiya Maryam Ndalolo, an expert in housing and construction industry, on Sunday attributed the incessant collapse of buildings in the country to unskilled manpower, substandard designs and construction errors.

Ndalolo, the General Manager, Social and Cooperative Housing, Federal Housing Authority (FHA), said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.She said the use of unskilled manpower in the housing and construction industry was a major challenge facing the sector.

There are trained professionals like architects, engineers and geotechnical surveyors,among others, who should handle buildings, structural designs and soil tests to determine appropriate foundations.However, some people prefer hiring quacks or inadequately trained personnel to handle designs because they are cheaper.

This is a major cause of collapse as the structural integrity can be compromised.She said construction or manufacturing errors caused by wrong choice of materials or incorrect size of materials were other factors contributing to collapse of buildings.
Ndalolo said that quality of cement and reinforcement bars, when used in smaller sizes could be cheaper but could give the building a weaker structure.

The general manger also said that the use of beach sand, especially in areas bordered by the atlantic ocean, which is salty, should be taken into consideration during construction.

The beach sand, though sharp, consists of salty residue from the ocean, which corrodes metal and subsequently weakens the reinforcement bars.This compromises the structural integrity of the building and can lead to its collapse eventually.

Another factor can be from shoddy workmanship and use of unskilled labour force,which may not adhere to design standards and specifications when unsupervised by authority in charge.”

She said substandard designs, inadequate supervision and calculations could lead to structural failure.She, therefore, said that supervision by certified professionals from design to approval stages was needed till project’s hand over.

She called for enforcement of building standards and codes to avoid incompetent builders, substandard materials, shoddy workmanship and other cost-saving measures that could be detrimental to the safety of projects.

Ndalolo said natural disasters such as heavy winds, rainstorms and floods without anticipation and safeguarding measures to counter their effects could undermine a structure’s integrity.

He said human factor such as vandalism or sabotage could also cause weaknessin a structure.In developed countries, you find several training, retraining and certification courses for those in the construction sector to ensure safety of the structure. (NAN)

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