And Death-Trap Becomes A House!

by L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu

Nigeria is a country littered with illegal buildings and construction eyesores. Experts blame the use of low-quality cement and inadequate supporting iron rods. Tens of thousands of office complexes, schools and hospitals are at risk. The good practice lies in the fact that the project supervisors base on a participatory approach whereby facilitation techniques are crammed from textbooks instead of using approved standard to assess their vulnerabilities and capacities in the face of identified hazards. Their involvement in identifying their problems, solutions and the implementation of their own strategies refused to empower them. Appropriate technologies introduced failed to increase their capacity.

About 80,000 public buildings in Nigeria are still unsafe despite the enforcement of construction regulations .During the course of the design and construction of these structures; the communities were careless about what actions they had to take to check the increased flooding. They were not given new skills in tree and grass planting. They neglected the consequences of tree felling and overgrazing. People who undertake building here in Nigeria should learn to advocate to local businesses to provide inputs in kind for the project, as well as negotiate with government authorities to provide inputs such as training. From that result, the citizens would confide in their ability to negotiate with local government authorities and to manage and own solutions to their problems.

Many building in Nigeria today were built with a less than scrupulous respect for anti-seismic building codes. We are faced with the lack of control on the quality of construction. I am really startled that a reinforced concrete building in a highly seismic zone can be so devastated to be declared off-limits. It’s absurd. If a structure is built following proper anti-seismic procedures, it can suffer damage, but it should still manage to withstand even a very destructive built-collapse.

We know that prevention is better than cure. Yet too often, there is a tendency to defer action until after disasters occur. Risk reduction building where people live is very crucial. Those of us inside “Nigeria4betterrule” vie for it as an important step to save Nigerian lives. And it comes at the right time.

People, poverty and disaster risk are increasingly concentrated in cities. Climate risk is adding a new risk dimension. Most Nigerian cities that were well planned 25 years ago are now experiencing yearly floods. Rapid urban growth is increasing vulnerability as these cities cannot provide adequate infrastructure and services to keep up with demand.

More than 1 million people in Nigeria live in informal settlements. That number is mushrooming by more than 0.4 million each year. Big cities in Nigeria are the most vulnerable to floods and hurricanes. This Office and Centre will enhance the capacity of this government officials and professionals to better analyze, assess and manage emerging risks from a changing climate. They will also promote innovative approaches to equip a new generation of urban planners and city managers with state-of-the art knowledge of risk-sensitive urban development.

Of these 22,000 were building edifice in swamp and mangrove areas within Nigeria’s estuary and coastal states like Lagos, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt and Calabar. Of another 16,000 buildings in zones considered at risk, 9,000 were not built with modern anti-seismic criteria. That will come as no surprise to the relatives of 26 persons killed in the Lagos building collapse in 2008 when erosion flattened a building under construction at Lekki area.

After surveying the rubble-strewn streets of Maitama inside the FCT Abuja, where two-thirds of the buildings lie in ruins, it appears we could not have had a magic wand (before the unfortunate incidence) to turn all the buildings into anti-seismic ones, but incites that all new structures should be built to the highest of an approved modern standards.

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