Building Failure And Collapse In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Building Technology BT

Building Failure And Collapse In Nigeria


It is evident that in life, shelter remains the second basic necessity of human needs after food, and as such, many individuals act desperately to have their own personal dwelling. Therefore, the need to erect solid and functional building to avoid unexpected collapse is very essential.

Building Collapse occur as a result of the following factors, factors such as; Poor workmanship, bad design, use of sub-standard building materials, foundation failure, faulty construction, extra-ordinary loads, among other factors such as negligence, design flaws, ageing, material fatigue, extreme operational and environmental conditions, accidents, terrorist attacks and natural hazards.

Therefore, there is need to eradicate building collapse in Nigeria, most especially, the study area which is Lagos-Island as it is believed to have the highest number incidents of building collapse and require immediate attention.
In view of the aforementioned therefore, this research work shall look into the problems that result into collapse of building in Nigeria whether design or construction or other related problems. However, having identified the problems of building collapse in the country with special focus on Lagos-Island, possible solution were thereafter proffered to solving the identified problems

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

The frequency of collapse of building structures on Nigeria in the past few years and recently had become very alarming and worrisome. Many lives and properties have been lost in the collapse of buildings mostly in Port Harcourt, Abuja and Lagos respectively. Many property owners have developed high blood pressure and some have been sent to an early grave. A visit to the collapsed scenes were as revealing as they were pathetic and one could not but wonder why such contraption could have been allowed to stand or to what extent people can go to cut corners at the expense of respect for safety and respect for lives.

Unfortunately, there are still a number of buildings of similar circumstances dotting the skyline of many cities in Nigeria. That building collapse incidence are still regularly occurring despite increasing diffusion of engineering knowledge over the years calls for some re-examination of development in building production and control process (Dimuna, 2010).

Development and construction of property is very necessary to every individual in life, as such, many individuals involve themselves in construction of property for either personal uses or for investment purposes. In Lagos State, every investor will like to acquire a property due to the rapid economic development and nature of investment, while some are of prestige. No investor or property owner will be happy to see his/her building collapse. Therefore, the need to follow the required due process before embarking on development of property is important.

Building collapse is becoming a serious problem in Nigeria in general and Lagos in particular as it has a lot of effect on the economy especially the development industry. Many investors today has failed due to their ways of developing property and thus lead to waste of many lives and properties worth millions or billions of naira in some cases. Building collapse does occur as a result of greed, incompetence and corruption on the part of the contractors and developers in building industry. The regulating authorities and concerned professional bodies need collaboration to ensure adherence to building regulations in Lagos State (Chika, 2008).

Research was carried out by (Bamidele, 2000) and (Fadamiro, 2002) on the causes of building collapse in Nigeria and identified the following five (5) major causes viz; natural phenomenon, design error, procedural error, sub-standard material, poor workmanship, the lack of maintenance, the abuse of use of building etc. Research showed that the substandard material and poor workmanship contribute 45% to the overall causes of building collapse in Lagos State. (Ogunsemi, 2002) added that substandard materials amount to 18.4% of the total cause of building collapse while poor workmanship amount to 19%. Building collapse can be as a result of some defect in building which are not quickly put in place by the property owner such as;

  1. Fungus stain and harmful growth
  2. Erosion of mortar joints
  3. Peeling paint
  4. Defective plastered renderings
  5. Cracking of walls and tearing walls
  6. Defective rainwater goods
  7. Decayed floor boards
  8. Insect or termite attack
  9. Roof defect
  10. Dampness penetration through walls
  11. Unstable foundation
  12. Poor installation of air-condition units etc

All these defects in building if not properly controlled ad maintained, with time can lead to unexpected building collapse (Gafar, 2004). Building collapse have been a serious problem and concern to the government and professionals in building industry as they have been making efforts in their own ways to reduce this incessant collapse if n not totally stopped.

Therefore, this research work shows in full details the various causes of building collapse, trends of casualties of building collapse in Lagos and other states as well as its effect on the economy and individuals, efforts of the government and professionals in building industry in ameliorating building collapse in Lagos, the historic data of past incidence of building collapse, as the view of various authors on building collapse shall be discussed.

1.2 Statement of Problem

The main purpose of any research work is to identify a particular problem(s) and give recommendation on how the problem will be solved or reduced. In the building industry today especially in Lagos, building collapse has been one of the major problem faced by both the private and public developer, whether for personal use and for investment purposes.

Lagos is a city where building collapse occur frequently and has the highest number of building collapse incidents that claimed about 64 lives between 1982-1996 (Dimuna, 2010). In the past thirty seven (37) years (1974-2010), Lagos State has recorded quite a number of cases of building collapse in areas like Ebute-Metta, Lagos-Island, Mushin, Oshodi, Maryland, Ojuelegba, Ikeja, Agege, Idumota, Ketu, Central Lagos, Surulere, etc as well as Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kano that also has the high number of building collapse cases.

This has posed a very serious challenge to those in the building industry, the government and the individuals who are into property development in the country and in Lagos State. The worrisome development and incidents throw the question that what might be the cause / causes of building collapse in the state? Several factors have been associated with this, some of which are negligence, greed, deficient foundations, inadequate steel reinforcement, hasty construction, no soil test, poor supervision and non-adherence to the building codes (Ede, 2010).

As part of the problem of building collapse, some of the construction i.e. owners of building under construction derail from their approved plans relying more on imagination and fantasy. Secondly, the approving authorities are also known to fail to monitor compliance with approved plans. Thirdly, some building owners shun professionals in order to cut costs. Fourthly, the high cost of building materials has led greedy contractors with eyes on profit, to patronise substandard materials. These shortcut measures have contributed immensely to the occurrence of failed buildings in the country (Adeniya, 2002). Before independence, building erected in Nigeria were in compliance with the global standards, but surprisingly from oil boom of 1970 till now, all manner of illicit activities that unwholesome professional practices have crept in Nigeria system, all they want is just the job done caring little or nothing about professionalism.

All the aforementioned problems and question is when will developers in Nigeria begin to follow the appropriate channel before embarking on development, and when will the building regulation be standardize by government for every development can take place, if all these are put in order, the problems of building collapse would be reduced to the barest minimum.

1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study

The aim of this research work is to examine the problems associated with building collapse in Lagos with special focus on Lagos Island as case study. In order to achieve this aim, the following objectives are pursued;

  1. To identify the causes and effects of building collapse on Lagos
  2. To examine the problems associated with building collapse in the study area
  3. To trace the past incidence of building collapse in Lagos and Nigeria at large
  4. To examine the efforts of government, professionals and all other stakeholders in eradicating building collapse in Nigeria
  5. To proffer suitable solution to the problems associated with building collapse in the study area

1.4 Research Questions

Based on the problems stated, the following are the questions for the study which will serve as guide as the study is meant to solve the problem stated above.

  1. What are the causes of building collapse?
  2. Does design/construction problem leads to building collapse?
  3. Does building collapse have any effect on the economy or property investment?
  4. What are the problems of building collapse?
  5. What are the major problems of the past building collapse in Lagos?
  6. How frequent does building collapse in Lagos?
  7. Has government and professionals made any effort to curb the collapse of building in Nigeria?
  8. Does the developers have their own faults in collapse of building?

1.5 Formulation of Research Hypothesis

Hypothesis is a tentative answer to a research problem. It is a proposition which can be put to test in order to determine its validity, also hypothesis is very brief, clear definite statement which are empirically verifiable, it may be positive (H1) or negative (H0).

Therefore, the hypotheses for this research study is stated as follows;

  1. H0 – Building collapse does not have any effect and problems on the economy as well as property investment
    H1 – Building collapse has effect and problems on the economy as well as property investment
  2. H0 – Government and professionals have made efforts to eradicate building collapse in Lagos State
    H1 – Government and professionals have made no efforts to eradicate building collapse in Lagos State

1.6 Significance of the Study

Every good research work must have an element of importance to some particular set of people, so as to make the purpose of the research work meaningful. Therefore, this research work is of great importance to the following group of people;

The developers will benefit from this research work as it will show their past mistakes that have led to collapse of buildings and how to improve on it, also it will enable them to know and identify the various causes of building collapse, the defect, effect and problems of building collapse and how it can be solved, they will also have an understanding on the importance of following the building code and the professionals that are involve in property development, so as to give their job to the right ones.

The building professionals will be able to improve on their lapses by giving the builder the orientation on the types of material to be use for construction and stop the use of sub-standard materials, that will eventually lead to building collapse, also they will improve their efforts to site supervision so as to know the quacks on site and the types and quality of materials that are used on sites. The government will definitely benefit greatly from this research if recommendations given thereafter is put in place, in terms of regulating the cost of materials both local and international and implement their rule and laws guiding constructing industry. Also, researchers and students writing on related topics or field of works can use this as their reference.

Finally, the tenants and individuals planning to embark on building construction will be able to know the sub-standard building materials if they go through this research work. They shall be able to identify building with defect and avoid such building for living in order not to waste their lives and property. Therefore, this research work is of great importance to the society as a whole.

1.7 Scope of the Study

This study will focus on the examination of the problems associated with building collapse in Lagos. Hence, the scope is therefore narrowed to Lagos-Island due to the record of building collapse in the area. As the study will focus on building collapse problems caused by design, construction, other causes, as well as its effect on property investment. Research questions will be administered through questionnaires to the professional team in the building industry, government parastatals and the real estate developers in with a view to examining its effects in Lagos-Island area of Lagos State.

1.8 Definition of Terms

Below are the terms used in the course of the research work, they are defines as follows;

1.9.1 Building Collapse:

This is an irreversible aspect of failure in which fails as a result of the development. It is the failure in building that leads to the breakdown of the building structures due to old age, design error, faulty construction, foundation failure, overloading, inadequate steel reinforcement, poor building material, lack of maintenance etc. Excessive rainfalls and poor drainage systems pose a serious problem to structures along the Nigerian coastlines. It is a common sight to see sinking old building around Lagos and within the coastal areas due to water related problems and deficient foundations, this is also applicable to many new structures as they manifest the same problem while under construction (Ede, 2010).

1.9.2 Building:

A building is a structural property such as house or school that consist of wall, door, window, foundation, roof etc. These are words for structure such as a house, office block, factory that has all the building components.

1.9.3 Sub-Standard Materials:

These are the type of materials that are below the prescribed standard or required standard. These are non-standard materials or less quality materials that are used for construction of building that can lead to failure of the building or collapse of such building. Materials that are used that are not adequately enough to the building standard to sustain the capacity of the building after construction, that leads to building collapse.

1.9.4 Building Defect:

These are failures occurring on a building or structure, it is also known as a structural factor as a result of mistakes in design of specification that can lead to the collapse of a building e.g. peeling paint, defect in plaster, rendering and cracking walls, termite attacks, unstable foundation, poor insulation etc.

1.9.5 Professional Team in the Building Industry:

These are various professionals that are involve in the process of property development from inception to the delivery stage. Examples are; Architects, Builders, Land Surveyors, Estimators, Quantity Surveyors, Town Planners, Engineers, Estate Surveyors and Valuers. They are trained and have become specialists in their various fields.

1.9 Limitation of the Study

In the course of this research work, few problems surfaced and they are as follows;

Time Factor:

The research work was combine with school activities and as such, slowed down the study a bit since the study area (Lagos) happens to be a bit far from the school environment.

Non-Challant attitude of Respondents:

Some respondents took time before they can fill the questionnaire not considering the distance between the school environment and Lagos.

Chapter Five

Summary of Findings, Recommendations and Conclusion

5.1 Summary of Findings

After a detailed analysis of data gathered from the three categories of respondents such as the Lagos State Ministry of Housing, Real Estate Developers and Professional team in the building industry, which follows by interpretation, the following are the summary of findings;

  1. The analysis revealed that the majority of the respondents are male and have witnessed and also aware of incidents of building collapse in Lagos.
  2. The respondents also agreed to the fact that the degree of effect of building collapse is Very High and as such, have caused a lot of problem to the government as well as professionals concerned. Also, it was agreed that the rampancy of building collapse in Lagos is high in nature and the government and professionals are making effort to eradicate it through public enlightenment and proper site supervision.
  3. The three categories of respondents i.e. government ministry of housing, real estate developers and professional team in the built environment identified the following as causes of building collapse; structural defect, faulty foundation, lack of maintenance, poor workmanship, sub-standard materials, design error, natural hazards, inexperienced professionals, hasty construction, greed, non-adherence to building codes, overloading, tendency to cheat, corruption, inadequate steel reinforcement, no soil test etc.

5.2 Recommendations

Having carried out due analysis and interpretation of data gathered from both primary and secondary sources, the following were recommended;

  1. The developers should not be in a hurry and also keep enough funds for development and deal directly with professionals with good track records and credibility.
  2. Adequate and proper test should be carried out for property that have reached old age and if defects were numerous, occupants should be advised in their best interest to vacate the building premises.
  3. Building professionals should ensure to carryout proper and efficient supervision of works on site as well as thorough inspect of materials to be used for the construction from sub-structure to superstructure.
  4. The government and professional team involve in building construction ought to enlighten each other on how to embrace good and quality professional practice as well as enlightening the general public from time to time on the best professional to approach whenever the decision to go into development is made. Also, to warn them that if the right channel is not pass or using the right people, the end result could be disastrous.
  5. The professionals such as the Architects, Builders, Engineers, Town Planners, Estate Surveyors and Valuers as Project Manager, Quantity Surveyors, Estimators need to come together periodically to discuss the problems facing the industry and suggest way forward.
  6. To save Nigeria from further agony and trauma, building approval should be in phases, design and site of the building should be approved by the concerned ministry and the government agencies should take the task very serious without bribe collection from client
  7. Government should enact a Law that will aim to curbing the use of sub-standard materials and making sure that high quality material prices are subsidised so that all income level can afford it. Hence, if all these recommendations can be taken seriously, it would provide a lasting situation to the menace of collapsed building and the psychological traumas it causes on its victims.
  8. There should be issuance of Certificate of Commencement of construction work, issuance for stages of construction works base on application by builders in charge on site. Government should also apply strict development control.
  9. Government should ensure that before any work commence on site, the materials to be used must be stamped by various professionals working on the site.
  10. The menace of building collapse is one that requires all stakeholders’ urgent attention. To this end, both government and private individuals make conscientious efforts to make sure that they only approved plans are strictly followed.
  11. Government officials in the Housing and Environmental Ministries must constantly inspect construction sites to ensure that only the approved plan are followed.
  12. Proper supervision and monitoring team should periodically inspect building materials to ensure building materials to ensure that sub-standard goods are not used.
  13. The only way through which this problem can be solved is by engaging the service of a qualified building, civil engineer and an Estate Surveyor and Valuer for construction and proper supervision of the project.
  14. The building professionals should enlighten the populace of the importance of their profession and the need for ordinary man to contact a certified builder for a new development. Also, government institutions in charge of buildings and development should ensure that the building codes are followed in the course of a new development.
  15. Foundation of building should be taken into consideration before putting load on i.e. this would determine the number of floors. Approved plan of the building should be strictly adhered to. Avoid using building that is meant for Residential use as Commercial. As we understand that Residential building cannot withstand intensive use and human traffic.

5.3 Conclusion

The aim of every developer is to develop properties and enjoy the investment wither through personal use or by generating income from it, and not to claim the lives of loved ones and properties. Research has shown that building collapse have very high effect on human lives and property and as a result of personal greed of many developers, corrupt government agencies on site and professionals who are contractors and project managers in the building industry are adding more to the problems. Most property developers patronise quacks due to lack of funds for development and are desperate to have shelter; the government agencies collect bribe and are unable to do the thorough supervision of plan approval and project, the contractors and project managers failed to use quality materials for building projects.

These are becoming the habits in Lagos. People loses their lives and properties very often in various crannies in Lagos and Nigeria at large due to some peoples’ fault, corruption and greediness. The incidents of building collapse therefore calls for the sites works and also to investigate the quality of materials, craftsmen and the nature of contractors involve in the construction on sites. This will justify the need to carryout research work on building collapse in Lagos with a view of examining its design and construction problem.

Therefore, recommendations given by the researcher and respondents should be taken with serious attention and it will proffer lasting solution to the problems of design and construction of building which results in to collapse in Lagos and Nigeria at large.

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