Building collapse: Expert attributes problems to Unskilled Manpower

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Hajiya Maryam Ndalolo, an expert in housing and construction industry, on Sunday attributed the incessant collapse of buildings in the country to unskilled manpower, substandard designs and construction errors.

Ndalolo, the General Manager, Social and Cooperative Housing, Federal Housing
Authority (FHA), said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
in Abuja.

She said the use of unskilled manpower in the housing and construction industry was
a major challenge facing the sector.

“There are trained professionals like architects, engineers and geotechnical surveyors,
among others, who should handle buildings, structural designs and soil tests to
determine appropriate foundations.

“However, some people prefer hiring quacks or inadequately trained personnel to
handle designs because they are cheaper.

“This is a major cause of collapse as the structural integrity can be compromised.
She said construction or manufacturing errors caused by wrong choice of
materials or incorrect size of materials were other factors contributing to collapse
of buildings.

Ndalolo said that quality of cement and reinforcement bars, when used in
smaller sizes could be cheaper but could give the building a weaker structure.
The general manager also said that the use of beach sand, especially in
areas bordered by the Atlantic ocean, which is salty, should be taken
into consideration during construction.

“The beach sand, though sharp, consists of salty residue from the ocean, which
corrodes metal and subsequently weakens the reinforcement bars.

“This compromises the structural integrity of the building and can lead to its
collapse eventually.

“Another factor can be from shoddy workmanship and use of unskilled labour force,
which may not adhere to design standards and specifications when unsupervised
by authority in charge.”

She said substandard designs, inadequate supervision and calculations could lead to
structural failure.

She, therefore, said that supervision by certified professionals from design to approval
stages was needed till project’s hand over.

She called for enforcement of building standards and codes to avoid incompetent
builders, substandard materials, shoddy workmanship and other cost-saving
measures that could be detrimental to the safety of projects.

Ndalolo said natural disasters such as heavy winds, rainstorms and floods without
anticipation and safeguarding measures to counter their effects could undermine
a structure’s integrity.

He said human factor such as vandalism or sabotage could also cause weakness
in a structure.

“In developed countries, you find several training, retraining and certification courses
for those in the construction sector to ensure the safety of the structure.

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