Stakeholders, Lagos Assembly tightens noose on building collapse

May 20, 2019
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By Olanrewaju Adesanya

Professionals  in the Physical Planning and Urban Development sector
have echoed the need to engage competent hands in building projects
inspection and issuance of planning approvals to halt the spate of
building collapse in Lagos State.
This was the thrust of the conversation at the public hearing,
organized by the House Committee on Physical Planning and Urban
Development chaired by Hon.David Setonji representing Badagry II at
Lagos State House of Assembly.
The conversational parley had in attendance experts in the sector; members of
the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, Nigerian Institute of
Engineers, academics and consultants amongst others.
The Lagos State Assembly in her bid to streamline necessary building
technicalities with a view to forestall recurrent collapse set out to
rework, Physical Planning Permit Regulations 2018, Building Control
Regulations 2018 as well as the Urban and Regional Planning and
Development Amendment Bill 2015.
Stakeholders however, raised their fears on a number of aberrations
cited in the proposed regulations and amendments, questioning the
dearth of qualified hands in the various agencies of government
saddled with the responsibility of monitoring building projects.
The stakeholders, who took turns to commend the regulations and
proposed amendment, advocated engagement of various professionals like
structural engineers, civil engineers, architects and others to stem
the tide.
Some of the stakeholders however, said that the notice of the public
hearing was too short for adequate planning and robust contributions
by them.
Over viewing, the Majority Leader of the House, Mr Sanai Agunbiade,
said that the building control and planning permit regulations were to
further standandise and enhance building and planning in the state.
Agunbiade, noted that the public hearing was to awaken consciousness
of everybody as regards building development to make all ugly
incidents of building collapse a thing of the past.
He said that the Building Control Regulations has three parts which
included-Notice, Plans and Certificates; Building Construction and
Development and Statutory Notices, Offences and Penalties.
On the Physical Planning Permit Regulations, Agunbiade said that the
regulations comprised approval to carry out development, application
for planning permit, submission of application among others.
On a bill for a law to amend the Urban and Regional Planning and
Development Law 2015, he said that the amendment to the bill would
give life to the regulations.
According to Agunbiade, the bill seeks to amend 11 out of the 103
sections of the extant law, and introduce a new 27 sections as well as
repeal a Lagos State Model City Development Authority law.
He said that the Model City Development Authority would now be put
under the ministry of physical planning.
In his contribution, Mr Lukman Oshodi, the Vice Chairman, Nigerian
Institute of Town Planners (NITP), said that the rank of Lagos as city
was relatively low in respect to building regulations.
Oshodi, who called for engagement of qualified professionals, harped
on implementation and enforcement of regulations and also advocated
accredited certifiers.
Prof. Martins Dada, a building expert, who called for adequate
planning, said that the state should exceed the minimum requirements
in building control.
Dada said that regulations under consideration did not even meet the
minimum requirements, adding that registered builders should supervise
buildings and not the regulatory agencies.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Institute of Civil Engineers, Lagos State
Chapter, Mrs Lola Adetona called for timeline for approval of permit
and the cost.
“It is mandatory to have a civil/structural engineer on site. Sewage
treatment plant should also be handled by a qualified civil
engineer,’’ Adetona said. Also, the Chairman of Nigerian Institute of
Architects, Lagos State Chapter, Mr Fitzgerald Umah said that the
state did not have the human resources to deal with the issues of
building collapse.
Umah said that the ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development
(MPP&UD) should find a way to ensure that professionals take
responsibilities for the jobs done.
Also, Mr Kunle Awobodu of the Council of Registered Builders of
Nigeria (CORBON) noted that some people employed by Lagos State
Building Control Agency (LABSCA) to monitor sites were not qualified.
He said that professional builders should be engaged in building
demolition/deconstruction to avoid unnecessary injuries by quacks.
Mr Tunji Odunlami, a retired Permanent Secretary from the MPP & UD
commended the government for responding to the challenges of building
collapse.
Odunlami, however, said that regulations should not be limited to
Building Control, Planning Permit, but be extended to Lagos State
Urban Renewal Authority-the third created in 2010 extant law.
Prof. Leke Oduwoye, a Town Planner and Architect said that development
control was a course in university, saying that many so called
professionals were not knowledgeable and well-trained.
Oduwoye called on professionals to know their boundaries to avoid
confusion on the field.
Mr Oreoluwa Fadayomi, the immediate past President of the Nigerian
Institution of Structural Engineers, who corroborated Oduwoye, called
for training and retraining of professionals in LABSCA.
Fadayomi advocated that LABSCA should be taken out of the MPP&UD and
should get professionals to man the authority.
Mr Yusuf Suleiman, a former General Manager, Lagos State Urban Renewal
Authority (LASURA), said that the e-planning permit being proposed
required adequate infrastructure before commencement.
Suleiman, who called for engagement of private consultants because of
staff shortage said: “Lagos is fast growing and cannot afford to slow
down the pace of development’’.
In the opinion of Mr Moses Ogunleye, a Town Planner said that
regulations should not be harmful to the developers but instead
enhance ease of doing business.
In his comment, Mr Rotimi Ogunleye, the Commissioner for Physical
Planning and Urban Development said the executive bill was transmitted
to the House in 2017 to ensure a well-knitted building development in
the state.
“When we have a substantive law, there must be regulations to
implement it. Professionals must give their inputs so that there will
be compliance,’’ he said.
The commissioner said that base on the challenges on the field there
was the need for an agency to do integrity and material test.
He said that the Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory (LSMTL) law
operations were relevant to the MPP & UD, hence it should not be
deleted as being proposed.
He said that the ministry had been finding it problematic implementing
the section 74 of the extant law, which bothers on forfeiture of
property.
Also speaking, Mr Ayo Adediran, a retired Permanent Secretary, said
that the principle behind the model city development had changed
nowadays; stressing that money generated in model city should be used
for infrastructure in same area.
Prof. Joseph Odigure, the Registrar, Council for the Regulation of
Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), said that design and construction
should be separated into two units rather than being fused.
Earlier, the Chairman of the committee said that the public hearing
was to ensure proper building development and end tales of woes due to
incessant building collapse.
He identified civil service bureaucracy as one of the factors delaying
approval of permits, saying that the essence of the regulations was to
put a stop to all challenges.
Earlier the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt.Hon.Mudashiru
Obasa on said that most cases of collapsed buildings in the state were
preventable with collective efforts of all professionals.
The Speaker, who was represented by his deputy, Mr Wasiu
Eshinlokun-Sanni said that the regulations and amendments would make
the state better and end building collapses.
Highlighting recent cases of building collapses where school children
were part of the casualties, said that such tragedy are preventable
only when every hand were on deck with enabling regulations.
“We appreciate your presence and we feel that the state and all of us
would be better for it at the end of the day. On March 13th 2019 there
was a building collapse in Ita Faaji and many pupils died.
“On 25th of March, 2019 another building collapsed in Kaakawa area of
Lagos Island. All those stories that touch the heart are preventable
if all of us do the right thing.
“I want to believe that these three regulations touch on aspects of
constructing buildings. I believe that if all officers adhere strictly
to all these, there would not be building collapse in Lagos Island or
anywhere.
“We all have duties to protect the vulnerable children and adults
that were affected by the building collapse.  We should do all we can
to protect our buildings. Your inputs matter in all regulations.’’
According to the committee Chairman,Hon.David Setonji there are three
militating factors to ease of issuance of approvals namely, civil
service bureaucracy which circumvents extant laws, concentration of
approving powers to the ministry which makes agencies inactive, cadres
hitherto permitted to approve building structures are no longer
allowed.
He however,noted that the stakeholders parley has churned out robust
deliberations that addresses the salient issues to place the state on
a safe pedestal for development.

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