Implementing Lessons Learned on Incidents of Collapse of Buildings in Nigeria – A Project Management Report
- Suggestions for an Implementation Approach
- A brief review of some recorded incidents of collapsed buildings including their causes and some proffered solutions.
- General Review of Causes of Collapse of Buildings in Nigeria
- General Recommendations for Implementing Solutions
- Incidents in Bangladesh and India
- Concluding Remarks
9. Other Topics: Project Management Tit-bits
9.1 Five Suggestions for Keeping your Team Motivated
9.2 Total Technology Consultants Limited: a project management consulting company
This issue contains a comprehensive report on the collapse of buildings in Nigeria and suggestions for implementing lessons that could be derived from the sorry incidents. The lessons learned, if implemented, should help minimise and indeed with time, practically eliminate the reoccurrence of the disasters.
We have also investigated some incidents in India and Bangladesh in addition to research in the collapses in some large Nigerian cities. We make bold to suggest that putting an end to the recurrent deadly incidents is certainly within our competence as a nation if we have the will to take the necessary short and long term actions.
We summarise a few of our findings in this editorial and invite the reader to study the report in order to appreciate the necessity for the recommendation in the report. We wish to make the following suggestions:
- Only qualified professionals, registered with the relevant organisations, should be involved in the approval of new building projects, supervising of construction, and regular inspection of existing buildings. The professional organisations include the Council of Registered Engineers (COREN), Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Nigerian Institute of Builders (NIB).
- Such professionals will be required to affix their individual professional stamps or identification mark on each document of a project in which they are involved. If they approve a project plan, the approving officer should stamp it with their official stamp that identifies them in their professional organisation. In the same vein, if they carry out supervision of construction activities of a building to which they are assigned, or regular inspection of existing buildings, their individual professional identification stamp should be placed on the documents covering such activities.
- Corruption, which is easily the cog in the wheel of progress in our country, has been listed as one of the major reasons for the collapses. Any professionals who are officially assigned to projects inevitably put their professional careers on the line if they choose to compromise quality work and integrity for a “mess of pottage”. It is not only that such misdemeanour may spell the end of their professional careers but it also the case that it may spell the end of their freedom as they may be in prison accused of murder. Lagos State is reportedly planning to legislate for imprisonment for officers responsible for the construction of collapsed buildings that have led to deaths.
- It has been stated that the increased rate of new developments in the building industry is such that there are not sufficient professionals to supervise all the activities required in the building projects. This is reportedly the case in Lagos State. This shortage of competent personnel provides a veritable opportunity for training Nigerian professionals such as engineers, architects, builders, etc., to work in the industry. There are many unemployed relevant professionals that could be trained if the required investment is made to recruit and train them adequately.
- Enabling legislations should be enacted by the National Assembly to enforce some of these suggestions and also to close loopholes currently being reportedly exploited by some unscrupulous officers in the building industry. These officers are said to be more interested in their pockets than in the safety of the building projects that they are required to supervise.
Incidents of the collapse of buildings occur every year from time to time with the concomitant losses of lives, properties and resources in both developing and developed countries. However, by a wide margin, the incidents are more frequent in developing nations. We have chosen to focus on Nigeria, and also Bangladesh and India where the incidents were quite high in the past year. Such catastrophic losses represent disasters and wastes that should not have occurred. Television and other media outlets broadcast and publish reports of the disasters, and some discuss their probable causes. Apart from efforts to help survivors and to provide some accommodation to rehouse them, it is doubtful how we educate ourselves and learn from such incidents in order to prevent reoccurrence.
It appears that generally, in both developed and developing economies, we rarely apply and implement lessons learned from past incidents. This explains why the same mistakes and failures continue to reoccur. It is a recommended practice in structured project management that at the end of a project, the project team should discuss and record the lessons learned from it, whether positive or negative. However, it has been the case that in many organisations, these lessons are faithfully recorded, then put away and never implemented to effect changes that should stop or minimise the chances of repetition of the same failures.
In this article, we intend to explore this subject as we do the following:
- Make suggestions for the implementation of lessons learned.
- Briefly review some recorded incidents of collapsed buildings including their causes and some of the proffered solutions.
- Discuss more widely the causes and solutions recommended and adopted in various cities affected by the collapse of buildings.
- Present simple concluding remarks which are high points of the recommendations on implementation.
As we discuss causes and solutions to incidents in some large cities in Nigeria, we have also considered incidents of collapse of buildings in Bangladesh and India despite the fact that our readership is mostly based in the UK and Africa. The reason is that we can learn from experiences of how the problems are solved internally within the country, and also how they are resolved internationally by countries with similar problems. The common thread on this subject in Nigeria, India, and Bangladesh is that we are saddled with a problem caused mostly by unsafe buildings put up illegally. Some of the houses have been built in high population growth area, some are illegal conversions of one-storey building to three or four-storey, and some are old and unmaintained buildings. Benchmarking allows us to copy and apply what has worked for various cities and nations to the solution of our similar problems. If we have such useful information, we should use it to avoid “reinventing the wheel” by seeking our own solutions with the associated losses in resources and lives as the problem lingers on.
3. Suggestions for an Implementation Approach
From our research, we would suggest the following approaches for implementing lessons learned in new projects:
- Organisations should state in writing the function or office, within the organisational project management teams, which should be responsible for supervising the implementation of lessons learned. This could be a responsibility of the Project Management Office (PMO).
- In the organisation’s project management methodology, there could be a clear description and delineation of points at which the lessons learned could be considered for implementation in a new project being planned, executed and managed.
- It has been suggested that there should be a top-down involvement in monitoring the implementation of lessons learned. Duncan Haughey, PMP, discussed this in his article in Projectsmart, entitled: “Avoid the same old mistakes by focusing on lessons learned”. We wish to add that having provided a properly documented archive of lessons learned, the project sponsor or any senior member of the steering committee should monitor the implementation. This could be done by requesting to be shown how and where the relevant lessons learned have been applied in a new project plan before approving it. It should be mandatory that referring to and using applicable information from the database of lessons learned should be an activity in the project planning process.
The suggestions for implementation in the preceding paragraphs have been made with the assumption that most organisations have and use a PMO. In addition, it has been assumed that they faithfully document lessons learned but fail to implement them. In reality, these assumptions may not be correct. Many organisations and companies, both in the private and public sectors, especially those in developing countries may not use PMOs or even practise the collation of lessons learned. Therefore, as a starting point, and for this article to be relevant to an organisation, we would suggest that collation of lessons learned should be embarked on if it is not being done. It could be stipulated as an activity in the organisational project management closing process such that lessons learned have to be prepared and submitted to the PMO, using an approved format.
4. A brief review of some recorded incidents of collapsed buildings including their causes and some proffered solutions.
We tabulate below and also discuss some reported incidents of collapse of buildings; we also consider their causes and applied solutions.
|Name of incident, city and country||Date and a brief description||Reasons for the failure||Implementation Recommendations|
|Incident 1: In Ebute-Meta, Lagos, Nigeria, building collapsed and killed seven.||Thursday, July 11, 2013, at least seven people were killed after a three-story residential building collapsed.||The building caved in because of structural defects, officials explained. There are many badly built structures with poor safety standards in many Lagos neighbourhoods containing old buildings.||Our suggestions for the implementation of recommended remedial actions have been given in the last section of this report containing the concluding remarks|
|Incident 2: A two-storey building in Surulere, Lagos collapsed killing five persons.||This was on July 21, 2013, at Ishaga, Surulere. The State Government had earlier sealed the building under construction.||The government instructed builders to stop work because there was no permit for it. Despite this, contractors removed the seal and worked on, especially on Sundays. The completed unsafe building later collapsed.|
|Incident 3: In Kaduna, Nigeria, a three-storey building slumped, killing three persons and trapped close to 50 persons under the rubble.||On July 10, the building collapsed. It was supposed to be 101 years old and situated along Hadeja Road by Ibrahim Taiwo Road. It had its three top floors as residential homes, while the ground floor was used for trading.||Lack of maintenance, as a result, no one could see the disaster waiting to happen, until it did.|
|Incident 4: In Port Harcourt, Rivers State, a two-storey building under construction crumbled. Properties were destroyed but no life was lost.||This was in 2012, in Rumubiakani/ Rumuomasi in Obioakpor Local Government Area of State, a two-storey building under construction crumbled.||It was reported that the building, initially designed as a two-storey structure, had ended up as a four-storey apartment. It failed as a result of additional burden of two more storeys.||As explained in the foregoing paragraph, our suggestions for the implementation of recommended remedial actions have been given in the last section of this report containing the concluding remarks|
|Incident 5: In Abuja, a storey building in a government girls’ secondary school, collapsed with eight students critically injured.||This was on Friday, September 27, 2013 in Nyanya, a satellite town of Abuja||A section of the balcony of the top floor collapsed as a result of the use of poor materials and also construction.|
|Incident 6: Two die as building collapsed in Abuja||This happened on August 27, 2013, at a construction site, Plot No. 2941, Aguiyi Ironsi Way, Maitama District, Abuja. It was being built by Metropole Development Limited. It collapsed trapping construction workers and two of them were killed.||Poor quality work and poor materials as the reportedly: “so-called concrete slabs could even be crushed with bare hands”.|
|Incident 7: A medical clinic at Mpape, a suburb of Abuja, collapsed,||On August 19, 2011, a clinic at Mpape, Abuja, came crashing down, killing two persons.||The clinic was initially designed as a one-storey building, but the owner converted it to a three-storey structure.|
|Incident 8: At Dutse-Alhaji, another satellite town in Abuja, a building collapsed killing three persons.||In the early hours of August 8, 2012, the three storey building crashed, killing three.||A building designed as a one-storey structure, received the additional burden of two more storeys.|
|Incidents Overseas: In Bangladesh and India|
|Incident 9: At Savar, Bangladesh, a 9-storey industrial building collapsed killing 1,127 persons||Wednesday, April 24, the building described as Rana Plaza in the Dhaka suburb of Savar collapsed. It housed five garment factories, several shops and a bank..||Cracks appeared in the building the day before the collapse but the owner boasted the that the building could stand “ a hundred years”. Building was not properly maintained and safety standards were poorly monitored.||Government set up safety inspections to examine standing buildings for defects. Buildings which cannot be repaired should be pulled down. The safety standard should be used during planning of new buildings in the locality to ensure that the requirements are observed|
|Incident 10: A three-story building in the northern suburb of Thane, Mumbai, collapsed||The building was 35 years old. This happened at 2:30 a.m. on Friday. June 21, 9 people were killed.||It was reportedly caused by shoddy construction work that causes buildings to fall. Such work is done without official permits.||Given the scale of the problems in India, it is realistic and safe to agree that buildings which cannot be repaired should be pulled down. This measure while difficult is the better of two evils. The other is the catastrophic death of people in hundreds when dilapidated buildings, waiting to collapse any time, fail without warning.Government approved safety standard should be used during planning of new buildings in the locality to ensure that safety requirements are observed|
|Incident 11: Another building in Thane, Mumbai collapsed.||This was on April 4, 2013. It was an illegally constructed building. The collapse led to the death of 72 people.||Old buildings crumble and even new ones as most are poorly built without adherence to regulations.|
|Incident 12: A portion of the five-story Altaf Mansion in Mahim, Mumbai collapsed.||On June 10, 2013, the building failed after heavy rains, killing 10 people.||Illegally constructed buildings are developed like mushrooms to accommodate a growing population. The quality of the construction has been described as absolutely horrible as there was little regulation or governance.|
Discussing Incidents in Nigeria
Incident 1: On July 11, 2013, at least seven people were killed after a residential building collapsed in Ebute-Meta, Lagos.
Causes of failure: The building caved in because of structural defects, officials explained. This was one of the many badly built structures with poor safety standards located in some neighbourhoods in Lagos.
Incident 2: A two-storey building in Ishaga, Surulere, Lagos fell, killing five persons on July 21, 2013. Government had earlier sealed the two-storey building, which had been under construction, and instructed builders to stop work, stressing that there was no permit backing the project.
Causes of failure: The building, located at 32/36 Ishaga Road, Surulere collapsed after a heavy downpour in the early hours of July 21, 2013. The house had been sealed off two times for the developer to stop construction, but he continued working. Despite government’s restriction and directive to stop further construction, contractors removed the seal and worked on, especially on Sundays.
Corruption: It is reported that one of the major reasons for building collapse in the country is that some authorities in charge of physical planning and development in practically all the states of the federation have apparently compromised their positions. It is alleged that what the inscription “stop work” at various building sites means is nothing but an invitation to “settle” the people concerned. Some officials are reportedly never concerned about the quality of work going on at the various building sites. Once the developer “pays the required amount and greased their palms”, everything is good and fine. It is said that relevant officials in most states have turned building inspection and quality control into an avenue to make personal wealth instead of insisting on maintaining the required standards.
Emphasizing this point, the newly elected President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Mr Ademola Olorunfemi, disclosed this on Thursday, January 30th 2014, in Abuja while featuring at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum. He said: “One of the major causes of building collapse is corruption; it is corruption that will lead to the use of substandard materials, or starting from giving it to a non-professional”. He continued: “You see a mark on a building these days it should say `stop construction’ but what it says is `come and see us in the office’ once you see them in the office, the red goes away.
Incident 3: On July 10, 2013, a three-storey building, said to have been built over 101 years ago, collapsed in Kaduna metropolis, trapping all the tenants that were inside, no fewer than 50 people were in the building at the time of the incident. Only five children, a woman and one man had been rescued at the time the incident was reported. The building, located along Hadeja Road by Ibrahim Taiwo Road, had its three top floors as residential homes, while the ground floor was used for trading.
Cause of failure: It was an old building with questionable maintenance.
Incident 4: In 2012, in the Rivers State, in Rumubiakani/Rumuomasi in Obioakpor Local Government Area, a two-storey building under construction crumbled. Properties were destroyed but no casualty was recorded.
Cause of failure: It was reported that the building, initially designed as a two-storey structure, had ended up as a four-storey apartment; it fell as a result of the additional weight.
Citing the Rumuomasi collapse, the State Chairman of Nigerian Institute of Architects, Emmanuel Dike, said, “The man who designed it is not an architect. I will not make such mistakes as a professional because I would have tested the soil, and then the foundation would have been done to meet the requirements. So, if the client wakes up tomorrow and says, ‘more money has come in, let us add one more floor’, I will say, ‘my friend: let us go and do it in another place.’ If he insists, we can then tell the engineer and do what we call under-pin towards the foundation.”
Solution: The State Chairman of Nigerian Society of Engineers, Denis Diana, said that efforts are being made by the Rivers State Government to tackle the challenge. He noted that they and the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) have partnered with the State Government, precisely the Ministry of Urban Development. A committee named: ‘Building Plan Approval Stop Shop’, has been set up to monitor and supervise building projects across the state.
Diana explained: “The committee gives a shop order, meaning that any design that is not done by a competent engineer will be disallowed. So, if you want to build a house in Rivers State, today, you will go to a central place to submit your drawings. In that office, you will find three architects from NIA, an engineer and a town planner. The town planner does the environmental impact analysis. So, when the drawings come, they look at them and check if the person has met the minimum standards. They will ask: is the designer of this building an architect? Is he registered to practise? This is to ensure standard jobs are done.”
Incident 5: On Friday, September 27, 2013 in Nyanya, a satellite town and a suburb in Abuja a storey building in a Government Secondary School, GSS collapsed with eight students critically injured.
Cause: It could be poor structural work as a balcony on one of the floors collapsed.
Incident 6: Two people lost their lives on August 27, 2013 as a building under construction collapsed in Maitama District, Abuja. The building being erected by Metropole Development Limited, it was gathered, caved in, trapping construction workers. In the process, two people were killed at this construction site, Plot No. 2941, Aguiyi Ironsi Way, Maitama District, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
Causes of failure: Most buildings that collapsed in Abuja in the past few years share a common feature that they were all under construction. This raises a question on the quality of materials used. It was reported that at the sites of some collapsed structures, so-called concrete slabs could even be crushed with bare hands.
Incident 7: On August 19, 2011, a clinic at Mpape, another suburb of Abuja, came crashing down, leaving two persons dead.
Cause of failure: The clinic had initially been designed as a one-storey building, with a commensurate foundation, but the owner decided to convert it to a three-storey structure.
Incident 8: It was a similar incident at Dutse-Alhaji, another satellite town in Abuja. A building, designed to be a one-storey structure, received the additional burden of two more storeys. In the early hours of August 8, 2012, it crashed, killing three.
Cause of failure: Victims of these collapsed buildings were mostly construction workers because the structures were uninhabited and construction was still ongoing on the overburdened building.
5. General Review of Causes of Collapse of Buildings in Nigeria
We highlight here some of the causes that account for the collapse of buildings in Nigeria.
5.1 Unhelpful Court Injunction that provides a loophole for the construction of illegal buildings: One of the challenges facing the Abuja Municipal Metropolitan Control (AMAC), according to Yusuf, the Director, Development Control (DC) in Abuja, is interference by unhelpful court injunctions. He explained that the department had situations where owners of weak buildings go to court. And while the case is still ongoing, with a stay on the department from further action, such owners continue to build. He cited a building in Asokoro, which eventually collapsed and killed a person because the owner continued building during such a court injunction.
5.2 “Cutting Corners” to avoid the Correct Building Procedures: It has been further reported that cases of building collapse in Abuja are as a result of negligence; people trying to cut corners. Owners and site engineers are not exempted from blame. Often an engineer would give professional advice to the owner on the proportion of materials needed. But in a bid to save money, the owner might “cut corners” by using inferior proportions of mix of materials. In addition, according to Yusuf, most times, building owners shy away from having to pay fees to qualified professionals, preferring instead quacks who charge less, but ruin the entire project. At other times, site “engineers” might swindle owners by using poor quality materials or even using materials in wrong proportions in order to make more profit.
5.3 The use of “Inadequate regulation by government”, with archaic “laws guiding construction and not reflecting present day realities of development”. Using Lagos State as a case study, the President of Nigerian Institute of Buildings (NIB), Mr. Chuks Omeife, as published in the Nigerian Guardian of Saturday, 27 July, 2013, said: “The regulation we are using today is not different from what was used in 1938, called the Lagos City Council Building By-laws. The rate of construction then was not as high as it is now. At that time, may be a building or two goes up in Lagos at the same time. But today, the rate has grown so fast that many buildings are going up at once.
“Thirty-years ago, in Lagos, there was still close monitoring. Today, the state does not have enough personnel to go round building sites. …in Lagos alone, we have over 45, 000 developments going on. How many personnel are at the building control department to ensure things are done in the right way?”
5.4 Absence of laws to enforce National Code: Omeife noted that the requirement for getting a building approval must be broadened to include other areas, in line with the National Building Code (NBC). He lamented that: “most states are copying the NBC and leaving approval the way it has been for many years. According to him, the Code makes it clear that builders should be responsible for management of the building process and supervision of artisans, among others.”
“Unfortunately,” Omeife stated: “The NBC itself has not been able to get the enabling law from the National Assembly. If you look at building collapse in the country today, nobody has been tried in a law court. Nobody has been sentenced to prison; nobody has been punished for any building collapse. And this is the reason buildings continue to fail, because people are becoming more daring. They keep building without going through necessary processes.
5.5 Failure of Nigerian States to Comply with the Building Code: Mr. Omiefe continued: “The engagement of professional builders, which is supposed to be in the Code, is not adopted in most of the states’ building regulations. …. When a building with an approval collapses, the architect or engineer is not liable. They cannot be sued, because they will tell you they are not responsible for the construction. But if you put a builder there, recognised by the law, then such builder can be held responsible if a building collapses. The issue of fake materials, shoddy workmanship would also be taken care of when a builder is involved; it becomes his responsibility to ensure that all these things are in good condition.”
6. General Recommendations for Implementing Solutions
We make the following recommendations for implementing solutions of lessons derivable from these incidents. We have quoted some information from some of the commendable and professional remedial practices being carried on in the cases studied.
6.1. Demolition of Illegal Structures: At the Abuja Municipal Metropolitan Control (AMAC), the Director, Development Control (DC), Yahaya Yusuf, discussed some of the efforts the government is making to minimise incidents of building collapse. The DC department, a government arm with the responsibility of ensuring that the master plan of Abuja is not disfigured by erection of illegal structures, has in recent times demolished such structures and shanties. He explained that the department has already marked buildings around Abuja which portend danger to people as a result of general weaknesses exhibited. He disclosed that there is a timetable for the demolition of the marked buildings. He explained that it is not only shanties that are being demolished, but also buildings belonging to the elite, wherever rules are violated. He cited the ALGON building in Maitama, constructed on a cul-de-sac.
6.2. Stringent Monitoring of Buildings by Relevant Professionals: The department ensures stringent monitoring of buildings under construction to prevent anomalies that could lead to collapses. Mr. Yusuf explained that one of the policies of government, in this direction, is to engage registered industry professionals outside government to supervise and monitor constructions. This, he said, means that liability during and after construction rests with the professional who has also signed an undertaking to that effect. He explains: “There are so many people taking part in making sure the building does not collapse in the first place. There is a civil engineer or structural engineer that will attest to the fact that he is responsible for monitoring and supervision of the construction on a day-to-day basis. So, when our workers go on routine monitoring, they are expected to see these professionals on site, especially at critical stages of the construction.”
He also noted that any misdemeanour on the part of these groups of professionals is reported to Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN), the regulatory body of engineering practice in the country. And in situations where lives are lost, as a result of negligence, the professional involved is handed over to the police for prosecution.
6.3 Retesting of Abandoned Buildings before Permission to Restart Building: “We have also gone round the city to identify all abandoned buildings. We have come to discover that some of them were developed to a point and stopped for months or even years for lack of resources, or other challenges. If we don’t subject such buildings to an integrity test, then we risk a collapse because such might have gone through wear and tear; unable to withstand any load. We were able to compile over 430 such buildings in order to make them go through a revalidation process, which requires us conducting the test on them before certifying them okay or otherwise. For such tests to be seen as objective, they are not carried out by this department, so that people will not say we are biased, we gave them to consultants in the private sector, as accredited and recommended by COREN.
“Between last year and now, about 122 buildings have been revalidated and people are continuing their construction in line with what we approved.”
6.4 Fortifying the City against Flooding: Incidents of collapsed buildings are more common during the rainy season. As a result, another cause of building collapse is flooding; natural disaster, partly worsened by global warming. The department has tried to build the resilience level of the city by not waiting for this kind of disaster to happen.
6.5 Support by Government and Loss of Plot of a Collapsed Building: According to Yusuf, “One thing that has helped us so far in carrying out our task is the high level political will displayed by the FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed, who has given us unparalleled freedom to do our work, even though this affects some personalities in the society,” he said. “The public is now aware that it is a matter of time. If we mark your structure for demolition, it will definitely go because on our part we must have taken all necessary precautions,” he said. He noted that the regulation now in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, is that owners of collapsed buildings automatically lose the plots, irrespective of the approval for such land.
6.6 Professional Intervention: The Registrar of the Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN), Mr. Kamila Maliki, reportedly explained that all practising engineers in the country are mandated to register with the institution as a way of checkmating the activities of quacks. “In any situation of building collapse, if we find our people culpable, their certificates are usually withdrawn and they are handed over to the law enforcement agent for prosecution. All registered engineers with COREN have individual numbers they usually quote on their jobs. That way, we are able to identify easily whoever is involved in whatever job. So, tracking offenders down is not a difficult task.”
The newly elected President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Mr Ademola Olorunfemi, speaking on Thursday, January 30, 2014, in Abuja while featuring at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum threw the following challenge: “Go and check it out, 99.99 per cent of building collapse, it is not an engineer on the register of COREN, it is somebody else,” . He said that the NSE and COREN had begun monitoring to ensure that only engineers were employed to do the work of an engineer while calling for the assistance of the media. Corroborating this, the COREN President Mr. Kashim Ali, said that both the NSE and COREN carry out investigations periodically on collapsed buildings and find that engineers are not usually engaged.
6.7 Need to Criminalise Collapse of Buildings: In a memorandum, President of Nigerian Institute of Building (NIB), Mr. Omeife, submitted to the Lagos State Tribunal of Inquiry on Collapsed Building, which sat on July 11, 2013, he proffered, among several solutions, the need to criminalise building collapse. He said that the lack of punitive measures against offenders is ample motivation for continued malpractices and a contributor to occurrences.
6.8 Need to Correct the lack of Professionalism in Building Management: Mr. Omeife suggests that: “Every building plan approving office should have all representatives of all professionals that will be involved in the procurement process, to check all submissions in line with their colleagues’ input. The town planner should check compliance with development control criteria; the architect should check architectural drawings; the structural engineer should check structural calculations and designs; the builder should check quality management and health and safety plan, as well as the construction programme of work.
“This will act as a double check and reduce inconsistency in planning approval documents submitted. The implication of this is that planning authorities should employ enough professionally qualified personnel to cope with both planning approval and site monitoring. This will take time, as it will require budgetary allocation or vote before personnel can be employed. Planning offices could also be merged together temporarily for effective and efficient discharge of responsibility.”
6.9 Government Regulations Required: He continues: “Government should make mandatory the preparation and submission of building maintenance manual for all completed building projects in the state. This should form part of the requirement for the issuance of Certificate of Completion and Fitness for Habitation by the Lagos State Building Control Agency. This should be jointly done by all the professional project participants. The value added to the completed building project cannot be over-emphasised.”
6.10 Lagos State Government to Punish Officers linked with Building Collapse:
According to the Guardian of July 28, 2013, the Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. Wale Ahmed, states that government will take appropriate legal action against culprits of building collapse in the state. The Guardian reported that it is alleged that contractors or their principals influence state officials to ensure rules are bent in their favour. Many of these contractors have political links with some ‘oga at the top’. The commissioner regretted that despite the state government’s drive to tighten building controls, some individuals go ahead to remove seals on buildings, as was the case in the Ishaga collapse. Such action is reportedly almost impossible without direct connivance with persons of note in authority.
7 Incidents in Bangladesh and India
Incident 9: Collapse Incident at Savar, Bangladesh, a 9-storey industrial building: This was on Wednesday, April 24, the building described as Rana Plaza in the Dhaka suburb, collapsed killing 1,127 persons. It housed five garment factories, several shops and a bank. Causes of failure: The collapse occurred April 24, a day after cracks appeared in the structure. The bank ordered its employees not to report for work, and the shops were closed because of a strike. However, garment workers were told to go to work despite their concerns that the building’s structure was not sound.
Solution: The government has set up a five-year plan which calls for independent safety inspections. It also requires companies to report publicly the findings. It also requires retailers to help finance fire safety and building improvements in factories with which they work. In addition, companies who sign on to the plan will have to terminate business with any factory that refuses to make necessary safety upgrades.
Incident 10: Collapse of buildings in Mumbai: On April 4, an illegally constructed building in Thane caused the deadliest building collapse in India in decades. At least 72 people died and 70 were injured.
Causes of failure: Mumbai witnessed an alarming number of building mishaps in 2013. It is sad and troubling that more structures are likely to collapse as old ones crumble from neglect and new ones are poorly made. Much of the shoddy construction that causes buildings to fall is done without proper permits. The state government ordered an investigation as police charged two builders with culpable homicide. If convicted, they face lifetime prison sentence.
Incident 12: On June 10, a portion of the five-story Altaf Mansion in the Mahim neighbourhood collapsed after heavy rains, killing 10 people.
Causes of failure:
- Lack of Maintenance and Illegal Alterations: Rizwan Merchant, an advocate who lost three family members in the accident, filed a police complaint that blamed the owners of the building for failing to form a society to maintain the building, two residents for making illegal alterations and civic officials for negligence. The city authorities contended that they had not received any complaints about changes made to the structure of the building.
- Poorly Constructed, Old and Unmaintained Buildings: While illegal construction mushrooms in Mumbai to accommodate a growing population, many of the legally built buildings are becoming uninhabitable. Several of the edifices in the older parts of Mumbai are over 70 years old, built in haste at a time when Mumbai was an up-and-coming commercial hub. “There were opportunistic developers taking advantage of the surge in demand in metropolitan Mumbai,” said Naushad Panjwani, senior executive director of Knight Frank India, a real estate company. “While they were relatively modern buildings for those times, the quality of the construction was absolutely horrible as there was little regulation or governance.”
Milind Sawant, deputy municipal commissioner of improvements, said buildings that are 60 to 70 years old have simply surpassed their life cycle and need to be rebuilt. “The cost of maintenance is at times higher than the cost of redevelopment,” he said.
- Substandard Buildings: Newer buildings, however, often have structural problems as developers compromise quality for speed. “The problem is that land has become so valuable that people are building on the land quickly, just to get something in place, and not with the intention of occupying it or keeping the inhabitants in mind,” said Matias Echanove, co-founder of URBZ, an urban research organisation. “The acceleration of this process means that substandard apartments are quickly put up for purely speculative reasons.”
- Poorly and Ill Maintained: The gradual decay of buildings is most commonly a result of the lack of periodic maintenance, especially when the buildings fall under the Rent Control Act, which severely limits the amount a tenant’s rent can be raised. With buildings that have many long term tenants, the rents can be so low that the landlord has no commercial incentive to renovate or maintain the structure.
Others blame the red tape involved in acquiring the necessary permissions to make small modifications to buildings, which leads frustrated residents to seek local contractors to make renovations without the advice of a structural engineer. “The focus of the civic authorities is not on safety but on checking who is making a small modification to the structure, so that they can pressure the person to pay a bribe,” said Rahul Srivastava, the other co-founder of URBZ.
- Dilapidated Buildings – “Accidents waiting to happen”: Meanwhile, the scale of the problem remains unclear. According to a pre-monsoon survey carried out by Mumbai’s municipal corporation, there are 959 dilapidated buildings in the city that house 100,000 people. However, real estate experts say that this figure is probably an underestimation.
“According to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority, there are over 16,000 buildings which were built before 1940, so to say only about 1,000 buildings in the whole city are dilapidated is a bit of a stretch,” said Mahesh Khalap, associate director of strategic consulting at Jones Lang LaSalle India, a real estate research firm.
Solution: Eviction to prevent disaster: In a desperate measure preceding this year’s monsoon, the city’s civic chief, Sitaram Kunte, said residents of buildings that were declared dilapidated by the city authority had until June 15, 2013 to evacuate. If the residents did not move out by then, he said, the authorities would resort to extreme measures, like cutting off the electricity and water supply. According to Section 354 of the Mumbai Municipal Act, the civic administration has the authority to compulsorily evict residents from dilapidated buildings. In many cases, residents are unwilling to move out of buildings deemed dangerous as they fear that they will lose their homes to bureaucratic delays in reconstruction. On the day of the deadline, 5,000 people protested against eviction notices, saying that they had not received the permission to repair their building privately.
8 Concluding Remarks
We here summarise some lessons that we could garner from the research on all the areas covered both internally and internationally. Our recommendations for implementation are as follow:
- Use of qualified professionals: The relevant government authorities need to ensure that only qualified and duly registered professionals should be used to approve building constructions. This is reportedly already being done in some states, particularly the Rivers State and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
- Train and deploy professionals in the building industry to stop further collapses: In the same vein, only qualified professionals should be used in the building industry. One of the complaints raised, especially in the Lagos State, is that the much increased rate of building activities and the number of construction sites are such that there are not sufficient professionals to supervise the projects. It certainly follows that the building industry is a veritable area for the investment of our professionals. More engineers, architects, builders, etc., should be trained and deployed to approve, supervise, and inspect building construction activities in the country. In a country where there are many unemployed professional engineers, architects, etc., why can we not train and deploy them to the building industry which promises to continue growing for the foreseeable future? There is every business and economic justification to embark on such an investment; if nothing, to minimise or stop the sorry and costly incidents of collapse of buildings and the collateral irreplaceable loss of lives.
- Pulling down unsafe buildings: Unsafe buildings should be pulled down so that they do not collapse and pull precious human lives into untimely death and graves. This is reportedly being practised in Abuja and India.
- Criminalise unapproved increase in the number of storeys of a building: It should be made illegal for a house to be upgraded from one storey to two, three or more storey building without approval. Such houses, if built illegally should be pulled down to avoid collapse in future since a lot of the failures have happened because houses were illegally built with more storeys than approved.
- Enact Enabling legislation for professionals to be solely responsible for building work approval and supervision: It should be legislated that inspection of buildings in cities should be supervised by a selection of professional groups. The Federal Nigerian Government could assign such a responsibility to Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN), Nigeria Institute of Building (NIB), Nigeria Institute of Architects (NIA) and any other relevant professional bodies. They could work together, as reportedly practised in the Rivers State and Abuja, not only for approval of new buildings and supervising their construction but also for conducting regular inspections of all existing buildings. The National Assembly should enact legislations to enforce the practices nation-wide.
9. Other Topics: Project Management Tit-bits
9.1 Five Suggestions for Keeping your Team Motivated
1: Set achievable deadlines
Project should be completed by Friday. That’s a lot to ask. Please set deadlines for your team members that are achievable. In fact, it’s even better to get them to help set the deadlines. If they sign up to completing a task by a particular date then they are far more likely to achieve it than if you told them what the deadline is. You may even split big tasks into smaller tasks so that each part has a separate end date. This will also make the deadlines more achievable and easier to monitor.
2: Monitor progress
You should be able to see how well you are making progress on your project if you monitor the status of each task. Monitoring will also help you see if anything (or anyone) is slowing down, allowing you to talk to them about keeping the momentum going. Use real-time information to check the progress of tasks and ensure that everything is moving forward.
Of course, you need a plan to monitor progress against, so make sure you have all the tasks and proposed completion dates noted down for you to check against.
3: Share your progress with others
It is not enough to know that progress is being made. In order for others on the team to feel as if they are achieving their project goals everyone should be updated on the project progress. This is easy to do using relevant and timely communication. You can quickly produce project reports to show progress against your plan and share them with the whole team with just a few clicks.
Being able to see that the project is moving forward is a great motivator and will help the team keep going towards those end goals.
4: Celebrate success
Do not wait until the end of the project to celebrate success! Find a few moments through the project where something has been achieved that is worth shouting about and celebrate those. For example, the end of the testing phase when you have a product that is fit for shipping, or the completion of a big piece of design. It really does not matter what you are celebrating as long as it is linked to the project somehow and you can use the occasion to demonstrate what progress is being made and what is still to do. Even small celebrations motivate team members which in turn helps you drive the project onwards.
5: Do not take on too much
A massive project can be daunting for everyone on the team and you might find that work slows down because people are overwhelmed. Split your project into smaller phases and deliver it a bit at a time. This can help structure the work into achievable pieces and make it manageable. If it feels less daunting, the team will be more confident about making progress.
9.2. Total Technology Consultants Limited (TTC) – A project management consulting company. We are a Project Management Training and Software Solutions Provider. We provide project management training and software solutions at our offices or at your facilities if and when requested. We provide both generic solutions and some from large vendors.
In addition, we represent a number of international companies. For example, we are the foremost Oracle Primavera solution provider in West Africa and also practise from our head office in the UK.
Who we are: Since 2003, we have been working with Primavera, with the takeover of Primavera by Oracle, we have become a Gold Level Reseller of Oracle University for Primavera courses and a partner of Oracle Primavera Global Business Unit.
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- Training on generic project management
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- Procurement of project and risk management solutions including Oracle Primavera solutions.
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