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LEGIS TRACKER: Building collapse – COREN advocates death penalty for offenders

LEGISREPORTS NG – Worried by the incessant building collapse in the country, Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN) has proposed death penalties to the owners of buildings that result to the death of people after collapsing.

President of the council, Engr Kashim Abdul Ali said this yesterday during the opening of a 3-day public hearing by the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on the composition and pigmentation of cement in Abuja.

“Like a man who drives a car and happened to kill somebody, he would be charge with manslaughter, even though he wasn’t the one who manufacture that car.

“But here is somebody who is involved in the building; who knowingly use sub-standard materials in a building which will collapse to kill people. He should also be killed,” he said.

The president added that the lawmakers should help towards enacting a criminal law on owners of building collapses, as found in many international countries.

“In Malaysia and Singapore, when a building collapses, owners are the first people to be investigated, which should also be the same here,” he said.

Asked whether the nature or quality of cement products used in building contribute to the cases of collapse, the COREN president explained that, after all investigations, cement product has never been the cause of collapses.

He said the problem always arises from the mixture of concrete frame for storey buildings, which occurs as a result of the use of quacks, instead of professional for building designs and supervision.

“The issue of quackry is the problem. There was a building collapse in Port Harcourt, when we went and investigated, we found out that a nurse was employed to supervise the construction of the building,” lamented the president.

He therefore said irrespective of the use of 32.5, 42.5 or 52.5 standards of cements on the market, a building only collapses on grounds of the quality of the mixture of concrete.

He told the committee that investigations have found out that there is no sub-standard cement product on the Nigerian market, rather people use pigment cement, which for special purposes in place of portland cement, that is used in general purposes.

Declaring the hearing open, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, said the House will not relent in its efforts to unravel the causes of frequent building collapse in the country.

The speaker said the efforts are in the pipeline to ensure the “unfortunate” loss of lives and property of Nigerians due to the building collapses incidences has stopped.

Tambuwal, represented by the House deputy leader, Rep Leo Ogor, was speaking while declaring open a public hearing for the investigation into the composition and pigmentation of cement by the House of Representatives ad hoc committee, chaired by Rep Yakubu Dogara (APC, Bauchi).

“The House of Representatives will not relent in its effort to unravel the causes of frequent building collapse in Nigeria particularly as they relate to the quality of cement produced in the country.

“While countries like Singapore and Malaysia whose level of development is at per with that of Nigeria in the 70s have made progress in development, erecting skyscrapers that stood the test of time, we continue to build one storey buildings that collapse shortly after they were completed,” he said.

It is sad, said Tambuwal, that Nigeria, with well trained manpower in engineering and other related professions, continues to witness building collapse across the length and breadth of the country.

Earlier in his opening remarks, chairman of the ad-hoc committee Rep Yukubu Dogara (APC Bauchi), said the serial building collapse in Nigeria has become a source of anxiety, as it becomes a national discourse.

He said “from 1974 to 2010, it is estimated that building collapse claimed 297 lives (where data is available). In Lagos alone, from 2000 to 2010 about 151 lives were lost due to this menace.”

He said it is unacceptable that stakeholders in the building industry not only fail the summon the necessary will towards arresting the problem, but rather resorted to “passing the bulk and avoiding responsibility.”

 

This report was prepared by our reporter in Abuja.

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