Experts link building collapse to low maintenance culture


Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi

In a bid to find lasting solutions to the menace of building collapse in the country, experts in the built environment have identified low maintenance culture as one of the contributing factors to structural failure.

Construction experts in the past said faulty designs; copied designs; lack of comprehensive subsoil investigation before designs are done; non-adherence to designs and professional advice during construction; lack of effectiveness of government agencies charged with the monitoring of the building procurement and production process and quackery at both pre and post-contract stages were major problems.

The Chairman, the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Lagos Chapter, Mr Segun Fadeyi, said building owners needed to imbibe the culture of maintenance in order to arrest the incident of building collapse.

According to him, inadequate maintenance can result in decay, degradation, reduced performance and may also affect the health or threaten the safety of users, occupants and others in the vicinity.

Fadeyi explained that building maintenance as a process of ensuring that buildings and other assets retained a good appearance and operate at optimum efficiency, should not be overlooked.

He said, “Maintenance includes activities done to keep spaces, structures and infrastructure in proper operating condition in a routine, scheduled, or anticipated fashion to prevent failure or degradation.

“No matter how attractive and competitive a building is, as its facilities age, the systems will deteriorate, and this can be severe enough to affect structural integrity.

“One of the keys to keeping the cost of a property low is through proper management and maintenance of the property. Building owners and facility managers are duty-bound to inspect and evaluate a building and its property to determine risks, maintenance plans, and necessary remediation.”

Fadeyi stated that wear and tear; defects in design construction, vandalism and environmental effects were factors that could necessitate maintenance.

He noted that building maintenance should be aimed at preventing the process of decay and degradation; maintaining structural stability and safety; prevent unnecessary damage from weather, and to optimise performance of buildings.

He also called for routine maintenance, adding “Routine maintenance includes cleaning, servicing, oiling, greasing, renewal of plastering, painting of walls, and painting of woodworks etc.”

He stated that most building collapse cases in the country were man-made, and that poor maintenance culture was a major factor.

The Coordinator of Ikotun/Igando cell of the Building Collapse Prevention Guild, Mrs Adekemi Okusaga, said the government had to be responsible and act fast.

According to Okusaga, the near lack of interest by the government has made many people to develop the habit of engaging quacks during construction.

“Before you build, you need to consult professionals.  Your safety is important and not the cost of the building,” she said.

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