BUILDING collapse is an unfortunate feature Nigerians have come to endure, with cases reported every now and then. Despite repeated calls by victims, experts and many other Nigerians, there seem to be no end to the collapses. Of more concern, according to experts, is the lack of punishment for those responsible for the collapses. The worst building collapse in the country occurred in the Ikotun area of Lagos on September 12, 2014.On that fateful day, a crowded six-storey guest house belonging to the Synagogue
Church of All Nations collapsed, trapping about 300 people. By the time rescue operations were concluded, the death toll stood at 116 with more than  100 others injured. Most of those killed in the collapse, 85 of them were South Africans. The collapse was not only shocking because of the death toll; the events that unfolded in the aftermath made it the most controversial. First, there were counter accusations from the church and emergency officials over the response to the collapse. While the emergency agencies accused the church’s officials of preventing them from accessing the collapse site, the church accused the agencies of being ill-equipped to rescue those that were  trapped. Then there was the case of the strange aircraft. The founder of the church, Pastor Temitope Joshua, blamed the collapse on a strange aircraft and sabotage. However, after a Coroner’s inquest indicted the church and the contractors of the building, the Lagos State government filed 111 counts against the Registered Trustees of the Synagogue Church of All Nations and four others.The case is ongoing. There have been many other incidents since then. Abuja is not left out. A building under construction at Gimbiyat Street collapsed in August 2010 with more than 30 people inside. Twenty-one of them died and nine were injured. Some reports put the death toll at 23. While at least two more uncompleted buildings have collapsed in Abuja since then, none has matched the 2010 collapse in terms of casualties. Towards the end of last year, the number
of people who died in last December’s collapsed was put at 30 following the collapse of  Reigners Bible Church building in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital.    What are the country’s engineers doing to stem this ugly trend in the 2017? Engineer Kashim Abdul Ali, president of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, COREN, said the New Year is providing his Council another opportunity to stem this ugly trend more than before. He told Nigerian Pilot Friday Magazine that one of the measures COREN  was  taking is   addressing quackery in the profession and in  the industry. According to Engineer Ali ; “Cases of collapsed buildings in Nigeria will continue as long as quackery continues to thrive. It is sad that these things continue to happen. But the truth is that if we eliminate quackery, we will tackle this menace. We are not happy with these ugly developments in our industry.” The COREN president also blamed the generality of Nigerians for encouraging quackery in the building industry because of the patronage they give those who are not trained engineers. According to Engineer Ali, most Nigerians would prefer to go to quacks who would charge them far less for a very poor job, while running away from professionals who will provide them consultancy and job that will endure for years. He exonerated his men from the ugly trend in the country. Engineer Ali revealed that “of all the building collapses so far recorded in Nigeria, less than 1% of those involved have been engineering personnel. That number has been prosecuted, sanctioned, or currently being interrogated.” He added that the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, between COREN and  ICPC has been very “useful as all non-registered engineering personnel involved in unethical engineering practices are handed over to ICPC.We are glad that the Commission is doing very well to bring erring persons to book.” He said it was in line with this that COREN  set up its investigating panels over some of the collapsed buildings last year. He said:”The panel sat five times within the period ,last year, and considered about six cases including the collapse of Synagogue Church of all Nations in Lagos and Minna Five Star Hotel and Tourism,Niger state, among others.”

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