A Group Photograph of Some Stakeholders at the Forum in Lagos Photo: LASG

‘Building Right’: Lagos engages construction professionals to curb frequent building collapses

*The Lagos State Government acknowledges the urgent need to collaborate with the built professionals in the state to bring sanity to the sector, expand the scope of monitoring and inspection activities of LASBCA, as it also agrees on professional indemnity and review of building approvals among other measures

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

In a move to step the recent spate of building collapse in the metropolitan state, the  Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development and relevant regulatory agencies, including the State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), have organised a Roundtable with Professionals and Stakeholders in the built sector to proffer lasting solutions to the menace.

ConsumerConnect reports Engr. Omotayo Bamgbose-Martins, Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, who presided over the Roundtable tagged: “Round Table Discussion on the Roles of Professionals in Effective Monitoring and Stage Inspection – A Solution to Building Collapse”, acknowledged the need for the Lagos State Government (LASG) to collaborate with the built professionals to bring sanity to the sector and also expand the scope of the monitoring and inspection activities of LASBCA to all parts of the Centre of Excellence.

The LASG, in a statement, said Engr. Bamgbose-Martins noted that the recommendations and solutions presented by the professionals, which had been divided into Long, Medium and Short terms, would be implemented accordingly.

The Commisioner also assured Lagosians and Nigerians at large that the appraisal and implementation of the recommendations by the leadership of the professional bodies would commence promptly.

Bamgbose-Martins said his tenure as the Head of the Physical Planning Ministry would be focused on addressing the incidents of building collapse.

Measures to achieve ‘zero-building collapse’: Commissioner

Engr. Bamgbose-Martins further disclosed that he has the mandate of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State to engage all relevant stakeholders in achieving a zero-building collapse in all parts of the State.

As a form of immediate measure to checkmate haphazard physical development and building collapse, the Commissioner announced a temporary stop to approval for additional floors on already existing buildings and amendments to approvals for additional floors.

“For now, building approvals will henceforth be based on numbers of floors applied for, from the inception of that building.

“We are going to discourage giving approvals for additional floors different from the numbers of floors that had earlier been approved when the construction works started originally,” stated he.

Responding to the concerns raised by the professional bodies on bringing to book individuals or organisations found culpable in incidents of building collapse, the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development as well assured the stakeholders that nobody, including government officials would be covered for wrongdoings, unprofessionalism or for any unethical conduct.

The need for attitudinal change by all stakeholders

Bamgbose-Martins, however, pleaded for genuine attitudinal change on the part of government officials, building developers, professional bodies, members of the public, and other relevant stakeholders.

With the appropriate attitude, he said, incidents of building collapse would be reduced to the barest minimum in Lagos State.

Earlier, Mr. Olajide Babatunde, Special Adviser to Governor Sanwo-Olu on E-GIS and Planning Matters, had described the choice of Engr. Omotayo Bamgbose-Martins, as the new Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development in Lagos as “a fair and well-thought-out decision” by the Governor.

Speaking at the forum, Engr. Abiola Kosegbe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, also emphasised the need to enforce adherence to laid down processes during construction works

Engr. Kosegbe asked the audience: “How do we ensure that developers who are desirous of maximising profits are following guidelines when the built professionals are not enforcing site inspection and compliance to designs?”

Rather than casting aspersions on the government officials, the Permanent Secretary  maintained that built stakeholders in Lagos State should see the task of monitoring and ensuring that building designs are followed by developers as a joint responsibility that should not be left to the government alone.

Importance of civic engagement in curbing building collapse

Arc. Gbolahan Oki, General Manager of LASBCA, as well remarked that the present administration understands and recognises the importance of civic engagement in achieving its policy thrust which informed the stakeholders’ roundtable.

The statement noted Oki implored all those involved in the building process to embrace genuine/positive attitudinal change as this will go a long way in nipping in the bud the incidence of building collapse in Lagos State.

He also disclosed that the agency had concluded plans to embark on a massive awareness campaign on ‘Building Right’, using all available means of communication, including social media, television, radio, newspapers and continuous stakeholders’ engagement.

Upholding the sanctity of precious human lives

In his contribution, Mr. Toyin Ayinde,  a former Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development and President of Nigeria Institute of Town Planners (NITP), advocated genuine value and love for human lives among building stakeholders.

Ayinde said that value for human lives would lead to ‘building right’, and will also engender sincerity in the implementation of the Lagos State Physical Planning Law for the good of all.

The government as well stated that Arc. Kayode Anibaba, Pioneer Commissioner for the then Physical Planning and Environment, related that during his time, the Ministry had initiated “Operation 30/30”, which meant that all approvals must be processed within 30 days or the applicants notified of the status of their applications.

Anibaba, therefore, submitted that timely issuance of permits would also help to improve the system.

In their contributions, participants advised Lagos State to institute a platform for appreciating and recognising individuals or organisations that have embraced voluntary compliance and also publish the details of buildings or structures that have been given Certificates of Fitness-For-Habitation.

They further assured other stakeholders that this measure would encourage professionalism in the built sector, added the statement.

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