In Morning Crossfire 2019-06-27 10:04:41

“Building, being one of the basic needs of mankind is erected to stand and to be functional for its intended use throughout its lifespan. Apart from giving protection from elements of nature and providing storehouse for personal possessions, shelter in accordance with contemporary modern standards, buildings must offer such infrastructure and services that would make dwelling conducive.”


Those are the words of Sherif Quadri, as he introduces Morning Crossfire on 99.3 Nigeria Info this morning. He co-hosts the show with Wemimo Adewuni as usual, with the following guests in the studio; General Manager, Lagos State Urban & Physical Planning, Mr. Funmilayo Osifuye; General manager, Lagos State Building Control Agency, Engineer Lekan Shodehinde; and In-House Guest, Mr. Adeniyi Kunnu.


“Unfortunately,” continues Sherif, “there’s no state in Nigeria out of the 36 states of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) that the incident of building collapse has not occurred in the past decade. In August 2017, the report from the Federal Ministry of Power Works and Housing reveals that a total of 54 building collapses have occurred across the country between 2012 and 2016. In 2016, more than six cases of fatal building collapses were recorded in Lagos State alone.”


Wemimo referred to March 13th, 2019 as a day Lagosians will never forget. That was the day the building collapse occurred at 63, Massey street, Ita-Faaji, Lagos. There was a school in the collapsed building and more than a hundred people were trapped including some pupils. Among the victims was a ten-year-old boy who died on his birthday, as well as the owner of the school itself. On Monday, 25th March 2019 she continues, another two-storey building collapse occurred in Lagos Island at midday but no one was trapped in that rubble. She also referred in retrospect to other building collapses that occurred in 2018.


The disturbing facts reveal that “30 percent of the building collapse incidents occurred in Lagos Island. The place is highly populated, a business area, also a residential district and the pressure of development is great in that area,” Wemimo adds.


Funmilayo Osifuye enlightens the audience on highlights of the first indigenous Lagos Master Plan. “This is captioned as Lagos Metropolitan Land Use Regional Map for Lagos State. This plan tenured between 1980 and 2000. Toward the end of that period, we realized that the content of this plan would not be realized. So a review was made in 2002 and it was also found out that there were a lot of dynamics in terms of population and also the incursion into the state by many people outside Lagos and there were imbalances that were not helping the plan move as expected in accordance with the content of the plan.


“Hence we developed this sectoral plan in different areas and this was captioned as ‘Master Plan & Model City Plan’. Majorly, Model City plan dealt with central parts of Lagos, while the Master Plan covers the peripheral areas such as Ibeju Lekki, Epe, Ikorodu, and Badagri. We are trying to balance the development of Lagos almost at the same pace. Lagos State is actually declared an urban area and we don’t want any other areas to lag behind. That’s why we developed this Model City and Master Plan. Some have been done, at least eight of these have been done and we are still working on others. There are only about three left.”


Wemimo observes that there are still slums in Lagos and people stream in to live in these areas. There have also been clashes in some communities such as Makoko and if we move on towards Epe there’s another community clash with government which still has its case in court till now. There’s been several clashes with Lagos State government in enforcing this Master Plan. “How well is this working?” Wemimo asks.


Osifuye responds that there are serious plans on the table to take care of all these matters. “When we had droves streaming into Lagos during the administration of Babatunde Fashola we asked ourselves about what should be done. Some of them had to go back to their states but constitutionally, we couldn’t do much at the time.


“There’s a new plan right now and there’s an Authority in charge. Yes, there are slums in Lagos and Lagos State Urban Renewal Authority (LASURA) has actually identified all of them. Lagos Island is the leading slum in Lagos.”


Engineer Shodehinde also comments about housing development in Lagos. What is being done to ensure that people’s lives are not being lost unnecessarily in Lagos? Who really is in charge of checking the quality of buildings put up in Lagos?


“It is wrong for any investor to think that because he is investing he has to do anything. He has to do everything within the law to recoup his investment. The premise that investors should do anything illegal is not to be encouraged.


“In any country, government is not a sole provider of housing but it could be a facilitator. Government is a good tax collector whereas, it is the people that do the business to grow the GDP of the country. If the government is the sole provider of housing, how will the economy grow? The biggest challenge we see in the industry is quackery.”


What are the other challenges faced by building professionals in Nigeria and how can the challenge of building collapse be contained?


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Morning Crossfire with Wemimo (@wemimospot) & Sheriff (@SheriffQuadry), alongside Adeniyi Kunnu (@Mautin777)

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