Nigerian architects, contractors call for registration amid “incessant” building collapses

As the death toll mounted from the latest in a spate of under-construction building collapses in Nigeria, the country’s architects and registered builders called for more stringent professional registration to weed out the "quacks" who were causing the failures.

Yesterday the death toll rose to 17 in Port Harcourt, where a seven-storey building under construction collapsed without warning on 23 November on Woji Road in the Government Reserved Area.

Since then, Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has been recovering bodies from the debris, with dwindling hope any will be found alive.

In August an uncompleted building in the Jabi district of Abuja collapsed, with some reports saying three people died, while others said one died.

Between 2012 and 2016, approximately 54 buildings collapsed in Nigeria, according to figures from the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, reports Nigerian newspaper, The Daily Trust. 

Speaking up against the "incessant" building collapses in the country, the chairman of Nigeria’s Council of Registered Builders (CORBON), Prof Kabir Bala, said his organisation was working with government to standardise the industry.

"We will not rest until we rid the building profession of bad eggs and quacks," he told a CORBON congress at the end of November, Daily Trust reported. "We have been working with government agencies on this and we shall keep this on."

Addressing the same congress, human rights lawyer Femi Falana said the federal government should "go after" unregistered builders infiltrating the industry.

"Most of those practicing building profession in the country are not registered with CORBON," he said, reports the Trust. "Most of them are quacks and they are mostly responsible for building collapse. The government and your body must go after them and fish them out for sanction."

Architects have echoed the message. Festus Njoku, president of the Nigerian Institute of Architects., said engaging fake professionals in construction costs lives.

"It’s very unfortunate that our society does not understand the importance of professionals. Most of the building collapses across the country were as a result of involving somebody who is not a professional to take up the job meant for professionals," he told the body’s annual conference, reports Nigerian news site, Vanguard.

He added: "There is need for law that will sentence to jail professionals whose negligence results to building collapse."

Image: Rescuers work on 2 December at the site of the building that collapsed in Port Harcourt on 23 November (From the official Twitter account of Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency)

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