Rivers State chapter chairman of the Nigerian Institute of Building, Hillary Ukwadi, spoke with EDITH CHUKU on the worrisome issues surrounding building collapse and how it can be eradicated, even as he advised, that professionals should be engaged in building projects.
Tell us about the builders’ week and what you intend to achieve?
Builders’ week was a thoughtful engagement by the Nigeria Institute of Building. It started since 2020 where we decided to create awareness, to make people understand the essence of building profession. We agreed and set aside every 13th of March to be a builders’ day but days before that 13th, we line up activities towards the climax of the builders’ day proper which is the 13th of March.
There are reports of building collapse every now and then in the country. What could be responsible?
The causes of building collapse can be classified into two; we have the man made and we have the natural but the natural hardly comes, it might take so much time, in our life time, we may not even experience natural causes, when I mean natural causes, talking in terms of earthquake, and the like, but the major challenge we are having as regards building collapse is purely man made, and this man made has to do so much in so many aspect either as a result of poor design, poor execution, using bad or substandard materials, those are the basic things that can metamorphose into collapse of building.
Now, when a building collapses, who should be held accountable?
Basically when a building collapses, investigations are bound to be carried out, and when this is done, it’s expected that those found culpable should be sanctioned, basically what leads to building collapse most of the time is that you find the wrong people doing the work they are not supposed to do, you see persons who are not knowledgeable, not trained to handle building as a production comes in to handle it, at the end of the day, you were exposed to collapse and majorly this is as a result of the level of the quackery that is now been. In fact as far as building profession is concerned, everybody tends to be a builder, everybody but it’s not suppose to be so, that is why the government should sit up, make sure the right legislation is been passed, and anybody that is not qualified to build, if the person build and it results to collapse the person should be severely sanctioned.
You’ve mentioned that building collapse in Nigeria is basically man made.
While we pray and hope that government pass the right legislation, are there possible ways we can as man eradicate this disaster, building collapse?
Basically, it can be eradicated by using, that’s one of the reasons for this programme, trying to create awareness, sensitize people of the need to engage, use professional buildings in building production, you don’t go and pick somebody from road side to carry out a building production process for you, you have to engage a professional builder.
When you say professional builders, it’s not like they wear placard with inscription; professional builders or quack. How do we differentiate between the professionals and quack in the building profession?
A builder is that person that has gone through the four walls of the university or polytechnic that has studied building, building technology or building management as a course, no matter what you call it, they are all in one. Thereafter, you proceed, and register with Nigeria Institute of Building after your graduation, there are stages of exam that you will pass through, then when you have been certified, you are now registered with the Nigeria Institute of Building, but that does not end there, once Nigeria Institute of Building has certified you, you will now proceed to Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria known as CORBON, it’s a regulatory body. They will examine you, put you to test and deem you fit to carry out a building production management, at that point in time, you are now called a builder, any other thing outside this explanation that I have given to you, any person that comes to claim that he is a builder outside this explanation that I have given to you, is a quack and is not qualified in any form to practice or to carry out anything called building process.
As the Nigeria Institute of Building marks this year’s builders’ week, what is your encouragement to them?
My encouragement basically is that we continue to carry out the awareness, carry out the sensitization because it’s actually painful for somebody to have invested so much money you know what it costs to build a house, all of a sudden, under a split second the house is being brought down and apart from the money that is involved, the lives that will be involved is not something to laugh at. That is why it pains us so much when we we see activities like this happening and based on that we will continue to propagate, to educate, to enlighten people on the need to always engage a professional builder when the need arises, to carry out any building production.