News Column

There Should Be Stiffer Penalty for Owners of Collapsed Buildings - Lasabi

July 7, 2014



Babatunde Lasabi is President of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB). In this interview with Senior Correspondent, Dada Jackson, he bares his mind on a number of topical issues. Excerpts:

How has the journey been so far as the helmsman of the Nigerian Institute of Building?

Thank you very much for this question. I would say since assuming office as president of the institute, it has been quite challenging and also interesting. We have tried to reposition the institute by bringing its activities to the front burner. Also, it may interest you to know that, not quite long ago, the NIOB was invited to the official launch of the Nigerian Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC) by the Federal Government in Abuja. In the short period that I have been in office, I have also striven to bring to the public glare the very important role that the builder is expected to play in the society. We should not forget that, in every construction, the builder is required to be actively engaged in the scheme of things. Also, within the time that I assumed office, I imbibe the culture of engagement with sister bodies in the build environment sector with a view to synergizing on all fronts that affect the professional bodies. Finally, we have been collaborating with the artisans with the sole aim of training and retraining, them in order to be relevant to the society at large.

There seems to be abatement in the incidences of collapsed buildings. Can we say its Uhuru yet?

Well, I would not say it is time to shout Uhuru, but let me quickly point out here, that the abatement though commendable is not enough for complacency by those that are involved in the construction industry.

I would want to point out that for us to experience a lull in respect of the incidences of collapsed buildings nationwide, the right personnel and the right building materials should be deployed as far as any development is concerned. Once this is done, there would be a great reduction in what we see in respect of collapses. It is disgusting that, in this time and century, developers find it unnecessary to engage the services of genuine professionals in handling their construction. In NOIB, we have put in place mechanism where our members can never be involved in any untoward activity that tarnishes the image of the institute. I believe strongly, that the involvement of the right professionals from the conceptualisation to the end of any development would no doubt, help in stemming the ugly incidences of collapsed buildings that have become a national embarrassment especially to those of us in the construction industry. I also want to point out here that until the National Building Code is passed by the National Assembly we shall continue to witness the incidences of collapse. It may interest you to know, that over the years, all the professionals in the built environment have been clamouring for the passage of the draft bill of the National Building Code which is presently before the house. I understand that the bill had gone through the second reading. Am yet to understand while members of the NASS are finding it difficult to allow the bill to go for the third reading and thereafter be committed to the committee stage. It should also be noted, that another major problem confronting the construction of a building which over the years had been drummed into the ears of those who care to know, is the burning issue of those who continually engage the services of quacks .Another major factor responsible for the incessant collapse of buildings is the use of sub-standard materials for construction. This bad habit should be discouraged by well meaning Nigerians who want the best for the country. The greed by most developers to want to make huge profits has largely been responsible for their recourse to the use of sub-standard and inferior building materials. Most genuine professionals have over they ears expressed reservations for this development and the earlier it is rectified, the better.

Briefly comment on the Land Use Act. What is your take on the matter?

Well, I think the Act should be reviewed especially the area that bothers on the governor's consent in respect of tiles on land. The aspect has been abused by some governors. There had been series of allegations that some governors used to hide under the section of the Act to victimize perceived political opponents in the issuance of title deeds. This power is too enormous to reside in an individual. It is expedient for the National Assembly to whittle down this power when considering the amendment of the Act. I would be glad if the on-going National Conference brings the issue to the front burner.

The deficit in the housing stock is about 17 million. How do we address this shortfall?

Government should involve the private sector in trying to address the deficit n the housing stock. It is commendable that the Federal Government has taken the initiative to build 500,000 housing units this year. But to achieve this they should provide the enabling environment aside from involving investors in actualizing the dream.


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Source: AllAfrica


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