Five Steps that can help forestall the trend of collapsing of buildings in Nigeria

Five Steps that can help forestall the trend of collapsing of buildings in Nigeria

Five Steps that can help forestall the trend of collapsing of buildings in Nigeria

28th April, 2022

3 minutes, 26 seconds read

Since the 12th of September 2014 when a six-story building located in Ikotun Lagos collapsed and 115 people were demised, there has been a record of many more collapses across Nigeria. According to reports, the approved plan for the Ikotun property was a two-story building, but the owners decided to expand it and make the building four stories higher.

In December of 2021, we also witnessed the Ikoyi building collapse which killed 42 people. These occurrences have brought up a lot of questions as to the causative factors. There have been different reports on the reasons for these collapses, some confirmed and others not. However this is viewed, this trend is taking lives, burning money and resources, and quite frankly needs to be curbed.

In this article, we will be sharing Five Steps than can help forestall the collapse of buildings in Nigeria adding to the knowledge out there already.

1.    The Right Human Resources

Experts have blamed incompetent artisans and the feeble oversight of builders as one of the significant reasons for collapsed buildings in Nigeria. Some contractors reduce the expenses of the project and sometimes hire the skills of non–experts who are not authorized to take part in any building projects.

One of the guarantees of quality assurance in the process of building constructions is ensuring the appropriate skill and manpower to deliver through industry best practices and well-tested policies and procedures. Contractors are encouraged to spare no expense in sourcing best-in-class skills and competencies for construction projects.

 

2.    Subscribe to the appropriate Structural Design Process

As we all agree, project planning is one of the most important steps in project management. For construction, the design phase is the part of planning that determines all other aspects of the project. In designing a building, more Important than the aesthetics and fancy spot are the integrity of structural design and the corresponding Bill of material (BoM) and Bill of Quantity (BoQ).

In building construction, project leadership should subscribe to building design standards that help to verify and certify the integrity of the plans. Structural/project workers also ought to guarantee that their plans are investigated and supported by suitable specialists before the building kicks off. This is essential to make sure that every building plan is made with unique design considerations like weather conditions, topography e.t.c.

 

3.    Stick to Quality Building Materials

Specialists have uncovered that one of the significant reasons why some buildings collapse is the failure of adherence to quality building materials, the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) also substantiates this. The research pointed at how concrete is mixed and used, most concrete used in the building does have all properties and particles properly bound together.

According to structural experts, there are three concrete types now being used around the world, which are; 32.5mpa, 42.5mpa, and 52.5mpa. The 32.5mpa can only be used for plastering and block making, the 42.5mpa is for multipurpose usage such as block molding, concreting, slabs, and high-rise buildings but it can’t be used for plastering, the 52.5mpa can be used for high density works such as bridges, embankments, dams and retainer walls.

 

4.    Imbibe Sustainable Maintenance Culture

Bad maintenance culture can impact the structural integrity of a building and cause structures to collapse. The best-developed structures need consistent attention and if the attention is postponed, what can begin as being something exceptionally minor is at risk of transforming rapidly into a costly man-made disaster. No structure can exist all through its life expectancy without proper maintenance. Even if a building is structurally impacted, the right remedial actions by expert structural engineers can help to restore the building. Experts recommend that building maintenance begins on the day the builders leave the site. Hence, the need for the maintenance of structures is very important.

 

5.    Obtaining and adhering to the National Building Code of Nigeria

The National Building Code of Nigeria is the body that is relied upon to manage and regulate all operations in the construction industry in the country. Experts have said that the failure of builders to obtain a pass from the National Building Code has been to a great extent the reason why the country has experienced several collapsed buildings over time. They believe that the National Building Code if enforced and strictly followed, will; control and stop non-experts and quacks from participating in any building projects in the country, guarantee consistent compliance by builders to stop the use of substandard materials for any building project and guarantee that builders and property owners maintain a good maintenance culture consistently.

In conclusion, the trend of collapsing buildings can be reversed in Nigeria if we follow the requirements of building construction.


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17th May, 2022

4 minutes, 34 seconds read

Is the Nigerian Mortgage System really aiding home ownership?

All over the world, mortgage is known to be a viable method to owning a home, but several factors have made it difficult for most Nigerians to access mortgages. In developed countries, effective mortgage systems have aided many people to become homeowners but in Nigeria, there have not been many success stories recorded. We looked closely at mortgage models in Europe and America and found that a major enabler of their effective mortgage system is lower interest rates and longer repayment period.  

Two months ago, the U.S. Census Bureau announced a homeownership rate of 65.5% for the year 2021; and in England, the House of Commons stated that 65% of its population were homeowners as at the end of 2020. This is contained in its “Extending home ownership: Government initiatives” report. These countries have single digit Mortgage interest rates – 6% in the United States and about 4% in England. Kosovo, Romania, Hungary, Singapore and Croatia all have home ownership rates above 90% with mortgage interest rates falling below 5%.

These mortgage systems have proven to be very effective, giving opportunities to more  young people; millennials below age 30 to own homes. This is very important to note when you consider that generally, millennials all over the world are finding avenues to increase their incomes, encouraging the “gig economy”, innovations in tech and the benefits of remote work. In 2020, especially during the worldwide lockdowns, we read stories on Twitter about the increase in home ownership rates amongst millennials in countries like the US.

 When we looked at homeownership rates in Nigeria, we saw a sharp difference. According to the “Housing Snap Poll” data by NOIPolls (a Nigerian consultancy company) only 31% of Nigerians as at 2014 lived in their 'personal house' which they may have built, purchased or inherited. This has negatively impacted the purchasing power of the average Nigerian. While this is many years ago, it is arguably true that due to inflation and recession, more Nigerians are poorer today than they were in 2014, and this means that less people can afford to own houses.

But let's come back to the conversation. If mortgage systems have significantly aided homeownership in other climes, why is it different in Nigeria?

Reports say that “85% of people in Nigeria would consider a mortgage as an option for home ownership” but availability, affordability and access are a major problem. Interest rates typically from commercial mortgage providers range between 15% to 25% per annum and up to 30% in some situations. In a bid to provide some respite, FMBN Act 3 of 1992, established the National Housing Fund (NHF) with the sole aim of mobilizing funds for the provision of “affordable” residential houses for Nigerians. In its 5 years of operation, the NHF was only able to disburse to 5,938 beneficiaries. It is understandable that the NHF can only disburse as much as is available in the treasury, there is still a big gap to fill especially with the lingering housing deficit.

What are your thoughts on the issues of the Mortgage system in Nigeria? DO you have any stories or experiences with it? We would love to hear from you. Please send your comments/feedback to [email protected]  

Think we should keep this part for the next article and do more deep dive 

. The National Housing Fund, according to the Act is supposed to come as investments from –

 ·         Commercial banks/Merchant banks- 10% of their loan and advance portfolios

·         Insurance companies - 20% and 40% of Non-Life and Life insurance respectively

·         and contributions from the Federal Government.

 Unfortunately, these numbers fall short of expectations.

When we studied the income and mortgage data for Nigeria, combined with the typical loan requirements of the NHF and other providers within the country, we found that while mortgage is hard to access, millennials in Nigeria also have a much lower chance of homeownership compared to their counterparts in other countries. Steep interest rates, the method of credit rating and qualifying for a loan are major reasons.

The requirements for loan application by the NHF states that:

  1. The applicant must show proof of deducted monthly contributions remitted to FMBN promptly (At least 6 months contributions should be made).
  2. Passbook is expected to be updated by an employer and is transferable from one employment to the other.
  3. Yearly statement of cumulative contributions plus accrued interest. (The higher your contribution volume, the higher the probability of being considered).
  4. Apply through any accredited Primary Mortgage Bank(PMB).
  5. Applicants must provide satisfactory evidence of regular income.

 Looking closely at those requirements, the problems become clearer.

 Unemployment versus Employment in the new work culture

According to data from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, 13.9 million Nigerian youths were unemployed by the end of 2020. Unemployment and underemployment rates also form a combined 55.7%. 

This is not to make a case for granting mortgages to people without employment. When you dig into the Nigerian income data, you will see that most of the employed, especially millennials, are either self-employed, working freelance, in the informal sector or in startups where compliance to points a and b above is extremely low.

It is not only that employment and regularity of income as a requirement puts younger people at a disadvantage, the cumulative contribution yardstick (which naturally favors the older people who have worked longer) makes it even so much harder for Nigeria’s millennials to own a home through mortgages. This extent of being cut off hits deeper among the younger population who are mostly earning entry level salaries.                                                    

Overall, the problem is more structural and fixing it will need a policy focused shift. The guiding regulations are not adapted to current work trends and excludes the sect of those flourishing in other forms of employment like freelancing, start-up structures and such.  A number of lessons can be learned from Europe and America, and in our next article, we will be discussing how other countries have been able to secure mortgage inclusion for their young people.

Are there other innovative ways these issues can be fixed? We would love to hear from you. Please send your comments/feedback to [email protected] 

9th May, 2022

1 minute, 30 seconds read

Lagos Building Collapse - Another tragedy at Ago Palace Way Despite Structural Integrity Measures

Barely a week after a three-story build collapse that killed over ten people in the Ebute Meta area of Lagos state, another building collapsed in the Ago Palace way area of the state sadly leaving behind nothing for the occupants.

The unfortunate incident happened on the 7th of May, 2022 at Chris Agadi Street off Ago Palace way opposite AP Fueling Station.

 

Despite the Lagos State Structural Integrity Test, this menace continues to rock Lagos State and this is worrisome.

 

At the time of this report, the head of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency(LASEMA), Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu confirmed in a statement that no casualty was recorded.

He said; “On arrival, information gathered from the residents revealed that the building gave signs several hours before the building collapsed. Fortunately, nobody was trapped as all the occupants evacuated the area when the signs began 2 hours before the collapse. A headcount of occupants was carried out to ensure no occupants were missing and the remains of the building were cordoned off. The operation was concluded at about 5:23 a.m.” The statement read.

 

Taking learnings from this incident, we believe some questions need to be answered especially in educating the public in managing similar situations. 

What should be done when a building gives signs of collapsing?

Who should be notified and what safety measures should be taken to avoid casualties?

 

The agency added that the site will be handed over to the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) and the Ministry of Physical Planning for further investigation.


While the government and its agencies are making moves on this issue, the big question still looms, “Which building is next to collapse?” “Is this becoming a new normal that we should get used to?”


In addition to the intervention from the Aside the government, real estate practitioners must take lessons rapidly on ensuring and maintaining the structural integrity of buildings. Should there be a nationwide structural integrity certification drive? Do practitioners need to involve an extra layer of testing structural integrity? We must begin to answer these lingering questions.