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Anambra moves to end building collapse

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THE growing incidence of building collapse has become a source of concern for both government and stakeholders in Anambra State and Nigeria generally. The trend has become so unabated that collapse of building structures is now an embarrassment to the government and source of increasing danger to lives and property of the citizenry.

To tackle the menace and ensure a joyful end to this nightmare, the office of Special Adviser to the Governor of Anambra State on Housing, in Collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of Structural Engineers,Anambra State, organized a one day Colloquium on building collapses at King David Hotel, Awka under the distinguished chairmanship of the Managing Director, Vivid Construction Limited, Sir Tony Uko Akpulu.

The occasion was well attended by experienced professionals, top civil servants and the leadership of various professional bodies in Nigeria.

Some of the eminent professionals that graced the occasion include:  Commissioner, Ministry of Housing, Anambra State,   Emeka Ezenwanne,  the president, Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers; the Chairman, Governing Council, Federal Polytechnic, Oko; Chief Lasbury Amadi,  the President, Nigerian Society of Engineers; the State Director, Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON),  Nwaoma Oluije, the General Manager, Anambra State Physical Planning Board;

the Executive Chairman, Anambra State Materials Testing Laboratory, Awka, Directory of Works, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka; Director, Physical Planning Department, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Igbariam; Mr Ebosie Ezeoke, the Chairman, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Awka Branch, other State Chairmen of various professional bodies, and other eminent Nigerians.

The event featured heart touching remarks, addresses and  presentation of the compendium papers by Chairman of the Occasion , Chief Tony Uko Akpulum, SA Housing to the Governor of Anambra State, Bldr. S.O. Okafor , Registered Structural Engineer, Dr. C.A. Ezeagu, Commissioner  for Housing,  Emeka Ezenwanne, Registered Architect, Arc. Dr. Iwuchukwu Okafor, Registered Town Planner, Tpl. J.O.J Ulasi.

The presentations were followed by a period of questions and answers, including interactive sessions, during which the issues of building collapse were holistically digested, and analyzed with solutions proffered for implementation.

Speaking at the occasion, Commissioner, Ministry of Housing, Anambra state, Emeka Ezenwanne, expressed his sincere gratitude and appreciation to all the participants  for their efficient contributions towards finding a permanent solution to the menace of building collapse in Anambra state and beyond and applauded  the SA for organizing such an incisive program for the good of Anambra State. He promised to convey the outcome of the colloquial to the state government for implementation.

In his opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion, Sir Tony Akpulu, expressed satisfaction that the colloquium was an excellent collection of experienced professionals   and was optimistic that the exercise would provide meaningful solutions to tackle the increasing menace of building collapse in Anambra State and across the society. He called on all professionals in the building industry to place higher premium on lives of building users, adding that good name and integrity   should always be their watchword rather than crazy desire for money.

He stressed the need to overhaul the relevant government agencies concerned with the planning and execution of buildings in Anambra State for more effectiveness, which he believes that a communiqué from the colloquium will be an excellent guide to.

During the event, all the speakers acknowledged that the major causes of the menace include: absence of quality design, no design, lack of adequate supervision, use of substandard building materials, Geotechnical factors (e.g. no soil test), engagement of quacks in building processes, lack of approval/granting of building permit, inadequate monitoring of construction process mostly on the government angle and failure  by professionals to  place high premium on their integrity.

They advised Anambra State Government to borrow a leaf from Lagos Government by establishing a Building Quality Control Agency which has already been captured by the government white paper on the report of the state Government Panel of Inquiry on building Collapse and to sustain the existing Materials Testing Laboratory.

It was noted that  presently, out of the four professionals tied closer to building constructions, town planning is domiciled in the Ministry of Lands; Structural Engineering is domiciled in the Ministry of works,

while the remaining two  of Architecture and Building are domiciled in the Ministry of Housing, and further advised that  for equity and Justice, the proposed Building Quality control Agency should be domiciled in the State Ministry of Housing, whereas the Anambra State Physical Planning Board (ANSPPB) ,continues to be in the Ministry of Lands;

that a Government Executive Bill on the Anambra State Building Quality Control Agency be prepared and submitted to the Anambra State House of Assembly; that the State Physical Planning Bill be touched to enable it concentrate on Town Planning Matters and granting of Building permit; where as the State Building Control Agency should focus on building construction calling for synergy in their operations;

that more Engineers, Builders and Architects be recruited for the purpose of equipping the new Building Quality Control Agency when established; and that the golden features and contents of National Building Code be strictly implemented and enforced as panacea for the eradication of Building Collapse in Anambra State,; and that all the necessary government ministries and agencies in the built environment are to embrace National Building Code.

Reacting to the event, the participants commended the office of SA to Governor Willie Obiano on Housing; and the Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers, Anambra State, for their patriotism and foresight in organizing the epoch making event.

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