Association of Architects React on the 21-Storey Building Collapse in Lagos; Identifies Next Steps


Sunday, November 07, 2021   /07:40 AM / by ANCA / Header Image Credit: Daily Post Nigeria


Association of Nigerian Chartered Architects (ANCA) has been following the developments in the Nigerian Physical Development space since the unfortunate collapse of a 21-storey development along Gerald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, which was under construction. After wide consultation on the matter, we have chosen to give our professional views on these unfortunate and ugly developments.


1. We sympathise with the families that have suffered losses in terms of lives, physical injuries and finance to this avoidable incidence. We share in their pains.


2. We align with the National outcry and concern about the incident, while hoping and praying like others, that efforts would be made to avert a repeat.


3. We commend the Governor of Lagos State for promptly setting up a Probe Panel to douse the spontaneous tension with a 30-day deadline.


4. However, we are of the view that, the magnitude and very wide implications of the incident demand and warrant that, a three-legged probe should be envisaged:


i.                 A Political Probe, which the Governor has promptly set up to douse tension and consider the general implications towards making consequential policy decisions and statements.


ii.               We understand the following are the Terms of Reference: to identify the remote and immediate cause of the building collapse; to ascertain whether there was a compromise of the building codes by the developer, his contractor and statutory agencies; to identify culprits; and to make necessary recommendations to guard against reoccurrence. In our view, the 30-day deadline should be adequate for that.


iii.             A Technical Probe, which should be carefully set up with all technical personnel in the building, construction and property industries. This panel should be given enough to address a myriad of technical issues involved in such a complex development. Issues to be investigated should include, among others,


a. The original brief for the project and its design. For example, in a widely circulated television interview, the majority shareholder of the developer, Femi Osibona, said the development was a 7-star fully serviced residential facility with all the qualities of a 7-star hotel. One of the fundamental requirements of a 7-star hotel is the wait-time at lift lobbies. For a 21-storey residential facility there should be at least 3 or four lifts in addition to a separate service lift. That is a huge structural aspect of the design that should have provided a structural core for the entire building. Unfortunately, the entire building came down like a pack of cards including the "lifts shaft";


b. What was the expected life span of the development? It was claimed in the television interview that the units were for outright sale. What was the design life time that was envisaged for owners? What is the guarantee that even the standing towers will not collapse soon after the owners move in with live loads and added dead load?


c. It is not enough that the structural engineer withdrew his services midway. The following questions should be asked: what structural design did he agree to supervise from its inception? Did he ensure professionally, that the structural design he was supervising was adequate for even 15 floors? In this regard, the "standing towers" should be subjected to structural analysis and simulated shocks to ascertain their integrity.


d. Quality of materials used. Every material used must be subjected to adequate scientific and technical analysis. The facilities for ensuring this must be sourced from wherever they are available, not by rule of thumb assessment. The scientific and technical analysis would establish whether those materials should have lasted the life of the development, considering Lagos environmental factors, even if the building did not collapse. In other words, this must be extended to the other "standing towers".


e. Management of the Project. How was the project managed from the design stage to the time of its collapse? How regular were technical site meetings held, if any? It is reported that, at the time of the collapse, 65% of the apartments had been sold and fully paid for. Were these part owners or, technically clients, aware of how the project they jointly own was being constructed, managed and documented through minutes of technical site meetings? We would like to emphasise that, questions relating to who did what on the project and how it was carried out; the qualifications of the consultants, contractors and other contributors to the design and execution of the project; approvals and violations, should have been answered at the political probe and not technical probe. These may only be referred to the next level of probe.


f. Several other technical queries compiled by a panel of experts, must be addressed.


iv.             A Judicial Probe or Corona's Inquest, which should be given enough time to investigate the legal implications of the first two probes. It is our submission that this probe or inquest and the technical probe should not be rushed. This probe should address the fundamental questions whether the developer is dead or alive and make a judicial pronouncement. It is our understanding that, the developer is Fourscore Homes Limited and before we are beclouded by the sentiment of "you do not deride or castigate the dead" a judicial pronouncement would be necessary. Every question that needs an answer from the developer regarding this calamity must be asked.


The Judicial Probe may have to find out from other jurisdictions whether, it is customary for Planning Approval Agencies in the U.K. to "mistakenly" approve 3 floors instead of 2, or 7 floors instead of 6 or it is just a case of a serial law breaker? Several other legal issues need to be articulated and judicially resolved, especially with the colossal loss of lives.


5. We would like to appeal to our friends of the legal profession to allow the first two probes to do their work without unnecessary injunctions and delays and reserve their arsenal to the Judicial probe where they could have a field day. The first two should be fact finding whose results and findings would be very useful to the Judicial Probe and Corona's Inquest.


6. Finally, this statement articulates the position of ANCA on the topical issue of the collapsed 21-storey building in Ikoyi, Lagos. If we are required to make an official presentation, either oral or written, at any probe connected with the subject matter, we shall very gladly avail ourselves. Hopefully, a time will come when probes of this nature and similar ones, the report of which, dot government offices and judicial libraries, will result in reducing this National cankerworm called building collapse.

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Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.

Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.

Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.

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