‘Enforcing building code will check collapse’

The issue of building code enforcement has been a major priority of your institute, why is your institute at the fore front of this?
The reason why the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) has been clamoring for the National Building Code to be enforced is principally because of our belief that once the code is implemented in the country a lot of the construction problems we are having will be eliminated.   Now what do we mean by that? In the code the professional responsibility of all professionals are specified and therefore the enforcement of the code would enable all professionals to stick to their professional  calling and responsibility in the discharge of their responsibility in the construction of every building project. The problem that we are having right now in the industry is that everybody is doing every other person’s job. You go to a site the person who is not supposed to be doing a design is doing it, the person who is not supposed to be doing mechanical design is doing it, the man who is not supposed to be supervising building construction is there doing so and so it is not their responsibility doing what they are not supposed to do. Of course problems will arise, failures will set in and inadequate supervision and a lot of things will become the problem.  We believe that with the enactment of the building code it would help to solve all the problems because  everybody`s responsibility  from design to construction has been articulated in the  building code, material specifications  is also there and everything that has to been done stage by stage in construction has been specified too. The  code did not just manifest like that it came up because professionals sat down and look at all the things that will help the industry and so  we believe that with the code in place all the ills in the building and construction industry will be checked. And that is why we are calling on the National Assembly to try and expedite action in the enactment of the National Building Code.

How far have you gone in the struggle for the enactment of this National Building code and the challenges you are facing?
The first impediment that we have is principally because that code is a code that was prepared by a group of professionals in the industry. And it is not like an executive bill; if it is an executive bill the executive will push for it to get through.  But we are happy now that the immediate past minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Ms. Amal Pepple has made the reviewed National Building Code an executive bill. That way it will get the necessary government backing that will ensure that the National Assembly will look at it expeditiously.

What is the level of the bill now at the National Assembly as we speak?
 So far so good,  we have  had like  2  or 3 hearings since the debate started  and they  have shown the enthusiasms that they want this bill passed.  Particularly  we are happy that a few professionals are also within the National Assembly  committee that is looking into the bill  and they understand the reasons why the code should be quickly passed.

A building collapsed recently in Utako in the  FCT, this is one out of the numerous  cases that occur often all over the country. What do you think is wrong with our building sector in view of the rampant cases of   collapsed buildings?
Before you know who is responsible you have to know what caused the failure. There are different professionals who are supposed to play different roles in the construction industry. And you   cannot simply look at a building that collapsed and immediately attribute the blame to a particular professional.  You have to look at what caused it.
Just like I mentioned earlier if the code is passed the responsibility of every professional at each stage of construction will be monitored. Let me give you an example in the National Building   Code it is stated there that an architect must do the design of a building, the structural engineer will do the structural design, the mechanical engineer will do the mechanical design, the electrical engineer will do the electrical design, the quantity surveyor will provide the bill of quantity at the end of the day all these professionals will now hand over their drawings to the builder who will supervise the construction process.  Also in the code there is what we called stage by stage approval. When an iron bender  comes and they do the reinforcement according to what have been specified  by the structural engineer who will come and supervise that aspect of his work to ensure that the right has been done he will now give that stage approval. The mechanical engineer will also come and ensure that specifications are met in the mechanical works before giving approval at that stage so on.   So if that is in place if there is a problem there you will now know who is at fault.
If all professionals come together and carry out their responsibilities the way it supposed to be at every stage of construction, that way, the issue of failure like building collapse will be mitigated.

What is your message to Nigerians who want to embark on building any project?
They should always engage the services of professionals in the building construction. They should not see the professionals’ fees being charged by professionals as a reason to engage quacks who will do more damages than good to them.  Anything worth doing is worth doing well; the professional engagement will give a building structure that will stand the test of time as well as save lives and properties being lost in collapsed building every now and then.

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