Building Failure And Collapse In Nigeria: The Influence Of The Informal Sector

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The occurrence of building failure and collapse has become a major issue of concern in the development of this nation as the magnitudes of this incident are becoming very alarming. This paper therefore examines the incidents of building failure/collapse in Nigeria. By focusing on six major states from each of the six geo-political regions of the country, the paper examined the contributory role of the informal sector to this decadence. The study indicated that the building failure and collapse stem principally from hasty construction, low quality workmanship, poor supervision, inexperience (use of incompetent hands), ignorance, evasion/ non-compliance with building regulations and non enforcement of building quality, standard and control on construction site/market. This study has revealed that more than 70% of the reported cases of building collapse in Nigeria stemmed from the informal sector. It further showed that 70-0%, 23-3% and 6.7% of the reported cases occurred in private, public and corporate organizations respectively. In this paper, it is concluded that it is important to educate or giver further advice to the government and the governmental agencies to be proactive to their duties in order to curb/reduce this negative image.

Keywords: Building Construction, Collapse, Failure, Influence, Informal-sector, Nigeria

Building collapse, though a common phenomenon all over the world is more rampant and devastating in the developing countries. The incidence of building failures and collapses has become major issues of concern in the development of this nation as the frequencies of their occurrence and the magnitude of the losses in terms of lives and properties are now becoming very alarming. In fact, building collapse has now become a familiar occurrence, even to layman on the street in Nigeria.

Failure in building can be described as the inability of the building components not being adequate to perform what are normally expected or required of those components. On the other hand, when part or whole structure has failed and suddenly gave way in a way that as a result of this failure, the building could not meet the purpose for which it was intended, the building has collapsed. Failures in building can occur during different stages of construction process itself, as well as after. In Nigeria, the common causes of building collapse have been traced to bad design, faulty construction, use of low quality materials, hasty construction, foundation failure, lack of proper supervision, ineffective enforcement of building codes by the relevant Town Planning Authorities, lack of proper maintenance e.t.c. (Folagbade, 2001 and Badejo, 2009)

Cases of building collapse are not restricted by climatology or level of urbanization as they cut across cultural and ethnical barriers. Many cases of building collapse have been reported in Nigeria. For instance, Folagbade (2001) and Chinwokwo (2000) enumerated forty- two (42) cases of building collapse as occurring between 1980 and 1999 in Nigeria while Makinde ( 2007) listed fifty-four (54) cases occurring between January 2000 and June 2007 alone. Building collapse has also been observed to cut across the different categories of building – private, corporate or public. Folagbade (2001) showed that of the twenty-five (25) reported cases of building collapse between 1980 and 1999 in Lagos State, private (76%), corporate (12%) and government or public buildings (12%) accounted for these proportions. Also, building collapse is no respecter of size of the structure. Amusan (1991) reported that Barnawa flat disaster in 1977 was a three-storey building, a public building (Secondary School) which collapsed in March 1988 at Ibadan was two-storey building, the collapsed show-room for cars in Lagos in 1987 was just a storey building while that of the Primary School in IIoabuchi, River State in July 1991 was a bungalow building. Folagbade (2001) also reports that the Abuja building which collapsed in March, 1993 and the one at Ojuelegba in 1999 were both multi-storey buildings. The memory of the incidents of two separate building collapses that occurred at Ebute-Meta area of Lagos State and Kano State which killed several people in 2007 still lingers on. Also reported was the fence of a Nursery and Primary School that collapsed at Olomi area, Ibadan, in March, 2008, thereby killing thirteen (13) pupils of the School. The death of over 50 students of Saque Comprehensive College, Port Harcourt in1990 was as a result of the owner attempting to construct additional floors on structurally unsafe walling. Similar trends of conversion were observed in a collapsed Mosque building in Mushin area, Lagos in 2001 and multi-storey commercial/residential building in Ebute-Meta also in Lagos state in which several people were killed. Some of the cases of building collapse are also as a result of ignorance on the part of developers and unauthorized conversion of buildings. Amusan (1991) asserts that the 1988 building collapse at Mushin, Lagos occurred when an attempt was made to raise the existing building by another floor. Also, operational conversion caused the collapsed school building at PortHarcourt.

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