Enhancing Safety in The Built Environment Through The Legislation Of Building Code In Nigeria

AUTHORS: FAGBOHUN, Joel Olaleye  & MOHAMMED, Tanko Abdullahi

Department of Building Technology, The Federal Polytechnic, Ado- Ekiti.

ABSTRACT

The incessant collapse of buildings across Nigeria has in recent years caused much concern about the safety of the built environment particularly in the major cities of Nigeria. Building codes or regulations are enacted the World over to ensure the safety, health and general welfare of the occupants of any built environment. This paper aimed at examining the contents of the National Building Code presented to the Federal Executive council in Nigeria in 2006, determining its acceptability among stakeholders in the Nigerian construction industry and its adequacy in ensuring safety in the built environment in by eliminating/minimizing building collapse. The methodology of research includes a comparative study of similar regulations in other parts of the world vis a vis the document presented as the national building code to the government of Nigeria in 2006.Questionnaires were administered among ninety professionals in the Nigerian building industry. The analysis was carried out using the percentage method and mean score with the aid of the statistical package for social scientists (SPSS). The findings showed that the National Building Code was acceptable to the professionals in the industry as adequate in ensuring the safety of occupants by reducing the risk of collapse among other benefits. It was therefore recommended that the stakeholders in the industry work in tandem to ensure that the code is passed into law and subsequently ensure its enforcement.

Key words: built environment, national building code, stakeholders, collapse, enforcement.

INTRODUCTION

It can be argued that building collapse is a worldwide phenomenon having occurred in Saudi Arabia, Netherlands, France etc within the last six months alone. The frequent reports in the media about collapse of buildings in various parts of Nigeria have raised serious concerns about the safety, the appropriateness of the design/ construction procedures and the effectiveness of the laws governing the erection of the structures. In Nigeria today there is no building regulation or code in force. There are however town planning laws which are adopted in many states to regulate building design and construction. Indeed many members of the Nigerian public including some involved in the business of building construction do not seem to be aware of the difference between town planning acts and a building code.

Buildings are designed to ensure safety and serviceability. Buildings that do not meet these requirements, regardless of their age, are unable to perform the functions for which they were constructed and are therefore said to have failed. Loss of serviceability is manifested in the development of excessive cracks, excessive vibrations and excessive deflections of the structure. Collapse can thus be regarded as the ultimate form of failure. (Adenuga and Raheem , 2009), (Bartony & Chernov, 1986, Rajput, 2006).

Ikpo (2006) noted that most buildings begin to deteriorate as soon as they are completed and where a project is delayed and the practical completion stage is prolonged, deterioration may start manifesting even at the construction stage. Deterioration takes place in stages from gradual decay, through systematic or random breakdown of components to a total failure as in the case of collapse.

Many other authors have also given reasons for collapse identifying them as arising from  structural defects,( Taiwo and Afolami (2011)) use of substandard and untested materials, Gideon (2011),  Jambol (2012), lack of or inadequate maintenance, (Adenuga and Raheem (2009), conversion to uses other than that for which it as designed, wrong choice/ design of foundation, (Oyenuga, 2008)) erection of additional floors on an existing foundation due to scarcity of land as is common in Lagos, Onitsha and many other cities in Nigeria. (Olusola, 2010.), Kawu (2013)

Building codes are enacted in other climes to ensure that buildings are constructed in such a way as to ensure the safety, health and general welfare of the occupants. It thus prescribes standards of materials and quality of workmanship necessary to achieve these objectives. It is thus targeted at the individual building unlike the town planning laws which defines the inter-relationship among  buildings, public utilities and physical (both natural and man-made) features in a neighbourhood, village, town, city or region.

The standards used in Nigeria for design and construction of buildings is the British Standard which many professionals have criticized as being inappropriate and inadequate for Nigeria due to  a number of reasons  climatic differences, types of material available, cultural differences etc

In recognition of the need for a home grown building code, the various regulatory bodies and the professional associations worked closely with the Federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, as it was then known, to fashion out a national building code for Nigeria. (Bamisile, 2006).

The document produced by that effort was presented by the then minister of housing and urban development to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in November, 2006 with the hope that it would be passed into law by the various states’ and the national assemblies. The reality of the situation today is that almost after a decade no further action has been taken to ensure its enactment although the Lagos State government appears to have adopted some provisions of the code. That action by Lagos state in itself is probably due to the fact that the state has been the worst hit by incidences of building collapse.

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