Building collapse continues to be a tragic issue in Nigeria, with over 62 buildings collapsing in 2022, killing 84 people and injuring 113, according to the Building Collapse and Prevention Guild (BCPG). Out of the total figure, Lagos accounted for 20 cases, with Kano and Anambra having five each, while Delta and Jigawa recorded four each. Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, recently expressed frustration with the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), blaming some of its officials for corruption and their role in the mishaps. Despite Sanwo-Olu’s concerns, another building collapsed only 24 hours later.
The failures bring to light the issues of building approvals, controls, and monitoring, which have remained the official pipeline for corruption in Nigeria, among some professionals responsible for such exercises. The developments have exposed how officials use “stop work orders” or ribbons on properties for personal gain rather than for the good of the state. Some professionals said the bane of building collapse in Lagos is the government’s lack of political will to implement reports.
The list of parcels of land forfeited to the government as a result of collapsed buildings is not in public view, while the indiscriminate manner in which buildings are marked by LASBCA has made the whole system ridiculous and a mockery of enforcement.
The tribunal suggested that the Lagos State Material Testing Laboratory should establish a Monitoring and Enforcement Unit in compliance with the provisions of Sections 9 and 13 of the Building and Civil Engineering (Construction) Materials Quality Law, 2006. Adequate sanctions should be imposed on developers, government officials, and professionals found culpable to discourage greed, indiscipline, and corruption in the system. The tribunal also recommended that the development permit process be decentralized, and vetting of documents should be carried out only by the appropriate registered professionals for each component. Monitoring and control activities should be outsourced to only registered professionals due to the apparent inability of Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) to effectively carry out these functions.
The President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Nathaniel Atebije, said, “Corruption has become endemic. It pervades every sphere of our national life. Most politicians get into power through questionable means. Corruption has not given Nigeria the opportunity of electing leaders.”