36,000 buildings at risk of collapse in Lagos, watchdog warns

Nigeria’s Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG) has warned the government that as many as 36,000 building in the country’s commercial capital of Lagos are in danger of failing.

The BCPG spoke out after a three-storey building that housed a primary and nursery school as well as apartments collapsed on Lagos Island on 13 March.

Akinwunmi Ambode, the governor of Lagos State, said the school had been operating illegally in a residential building, and that most of the buildings in the area had been marked for demolition. He called for a "full scale investigation" into the cause of the collapse.

The warning was delivered by Akinola George, the BCPG’s president, on Monday, 25 March. He blamed the danger on faulty designs and "half baked" developers.

Akinola said: "It may be a surprise to many that most buildings in Lagos State are not constructed by the people who are properly trained to do so. Architects, civil, structural, mechanical and electrical engineers, quantity surveyors, builders and land surveyors are virtual onlookers on the scene, as they participate in less than 20% of the total volume of construction activities going on in the state."

He added that a survey revealed that Lagos State had more than 45,000 active sites at any one time, which mean that 36,000 of them were in the hands of "quacks and other faceless characters by whatever names called".

Particular areas of concern were Lagos Island, Oworonshoki, Bariga, Somolu, Ebute Meta, Mushin and Ajegunle. He said that the Lagos masterplan should be reviewed, and buildings demolished that were below the standard required by Nigeria’s building code.

Image: Downtown Lagos (Dreamstime)

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  1. Everyone, particularly those in charge in the Country, the States, the universities, all professional institutions, all politicians MUST be totally ashamed of themselves.

    Words cannot express the incompetency, greed and gutless leaders and politicians in this country.

  2. Half Baked Developers indeed! Buildings, like all structures, are designed to support certain loads without deforming excessively. The loads are the weights of people and objects, the weight of rain and the pressure of wind called live loads and the dead load of the building itself. With buildings of a few floors as mentioned in the article, strength generally accompanies sufficient rigidity, and the design is mainly that of a roof that will keep the weather out while spanning large open spaces.

    There are numerous reasons why buildings collapse, but the most obvious reasons are the passage of time of a building, weak foundation, tropical cyclones, and other natural disasters which also cause long term damage to structure of the building and cause it to collapse. However; there are some man-made effects why building collapse as mentioned on the article –

    “Half Baked Developers”. Inconsiderate on the part of engineers for not putting a thinking cap on ….Overload – too many people on a balcony or deck is a common habit in Lagos and some other Nigeria suburb and reason or when the occupancy of these areas are changed without an evaluation. Lack of maintenance will lead to things like not noticing problems before it becomes catastrophic.

    Mostly use of inferior materials such as older fire retardant treated wood roof assemblies made with cheap ammonium phosphate are prone to collapse after 25 years of service. In addition, bad engineering, structural engineers make mistakes, everyone does, but in small firms; a lack of multiple people checking designs can lead to bad calculations and structural failures . In some instances, under-designed structures, which means following the code correctly and performed good calculations but it still was inadequate for the loads. At the instance where the unapproved school collapsed, inconsiderate and bad construction can be regarded as the reason for the self-supported deck to collapse, I believe the contractor only providing nails between the deck ledger and the structure of the house, which results in the deck pulling away and eventually collapsed.

    The City government should lay serious emphasis on Construction Quality Control, been critical important to a successful construction project and adhered contractors to approved issued for construction drawings and specifications, from conception and design to construction and installations.

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