Collapse of buildings is not new to Nigeria, neither is it only peculiar to Nigeria, however that will not stop us from taking critical look at the situation and finding a solution to it.
Collapse of building though can happen to any kind of building but the casualty of multistory buildings can be so terrible.
The collapse of storey buildings in Nigeria, especially in Lagos usually goes along with it attending casualties which can be more than 20. But what really motivates multi-storey buildings.
Multi-storey buildings are either built because of social status, there are places you get to and all what you see are very high building so you don’t want yours to be unnoticeable among them.
Commercial viability of a location also make more people to build storey structures in an area because more people will jostle for space to exhibit or get contact with their customers or client.
Area accessibility, some location are routes to a lot of places so high vehicular and human traffic is usually associated with such places, hence more commercial activities.
So why the peculiarity of big cities like Port-Harcourt and Lagos. You will see that the criteria above one way or the other affects this two cities.
There is always a tendency of man habiting very close to water because of the opportunity of controlling the waterways which can give opportunity for inter trade between nations. Lagos and Portharcourt have so much prominence today because of their nearness to water. Their closeness to water naturally gave room for shipping ports in these areas, shipping port in turns promotes commercial activities, and commercial activities naturally generates heavy human traffic and human being requires shelter for himself, his goods and services. So building springs up in these places and that brings competition for very few available spaces. Hence to meet demand, designers and building constructors will have to settle for multistorey building because of increasing unending economic value of these places. That is why in Lagos Island or Isale Eko Portharcourt and other area where ships can berth, there will always be influx of people and buildings will keep springing up due to this. political activities or decision is also a factor that have contributed in making these cities bigger. Also availability of Natural and human resources is important. Natural resources had also contributed to the growth of some towns in Nigeria.
Now, the soil in these areas are sandy and loose soil they are not strong or compacted soils. Hence, the requirement of building construction professionals are usually high here. For most of these buildings, they dig long and strong piles foundation, however few still collapses. Most houses of 3,4 or storey buildings in Lagos Island are at best good for 15 years. Remember the land themselves are not strong, and people builds on these lands using templates used for better and more compacted lands. So what causes the collapse of this houses or buildings.
(1) The first problem is boycotting the professionals –
This issue has been overflogged both in print media and electronic media but the same problem still persists. There is also a problem of eggheads professionals, that believes they know all and are not ready to take advice from a colleague. There are known cases like that, that has turned awry, the big buildings that are collapsing in Lagos business district were handled by professionals.
(2) Contractors cutting corners –
Contractors trying to make gains at the expense and lives of the users of the building is another problem that have to be tackled. There should be a check from policy makers to make sure specification is thoroughly followed by contractors.
(3) Human activities on building –
As insignificant human weight may seem to be, the moving up and down of the live loads and dead load contributes overtime in no small measure in wearing down the building. It will take long time though, but houses also expires, and in the case of the types of buildings we have in Nigeria, there lifespan is shorter than others in civilised world.
(4) Inadequate foundation –
This is the most important part of a building, unfortunately a lot of people are not giving adequate monitoring to this and is causing more problem. A registered Structural Engineer is very important to you if you are planning on building a strong and solid multistorey building. (5)Aging Building – Many do not know that buildings also have their life span most of the building in Lagos Mainland have spent 25 years and above, despite that they are of shallow foundation and very low quality materials are used for them. As you lay your bed, so you’ll lie on it. If you had used low quality material thereby thinking you’ll cut cost, then also be expecting to park out of that building very soon.