By Tajuddeen Ahmad Tijjani
Indeed, the collapse of a 21-story building under construction in the Ikoyi area of Lagos State on Monday, November 1, 2021, is unfortunate. Unfortunately, this sad incident occurs in almost every region of Nigeria without proper investigation to determine the actual courses of action and adequate solutions to prevent future occurrences.
The Council for Regulations of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) is the body empowered to regulate and control the practice of the engineering profession in all its aspects and ramifications. Perhaps someone needs to ask this pertinent question. Is the body complying with its mandates in the country? If so, then where did we get it wrong? And again, is the government at all levels helping the body to enforce its mandates? Or it’s just unprofessional to allow them to execute such magnitude projects. Tragically, in the process, structural collapses lead to the loss of innocent lives and properties, costing billions of Naira.
Most of the time, clients find it challenging to pay professionals’ fees for contracts to be executed according to international world best practices. Yet, beyond the shadow of a doubt, engineering preaches the gospel of truth and scientific honesty.
In this unfortunate development in Ikoyi, a proper investigation needs to be carried out, and the perpetrators must be punished according to their share of incompetence and negligence. Even though there are reports that the company handling the said structural design and supervision, “Prowess Engineering limited” wrote a letter and withdrew their structural consultancy services, citing the fact that they didn’t share the same vision with the client on account of how the project was being handled; it couldn’t guarantee the integrity of the building since specifics were not followed, which are cardinal principles of engineering.
This barbaric practice cannot be allowed to continue in Nigeria. The system must be sanitised. We can’t continue endangering the lives of innocent people due to sheer negligence. Enough is enough. Governments and regulatory bodies must rise to their responsibilities in safeguarding the lives of our people.
However, this is where the employees’ compensation act (ECA) is very cardinal. The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund established vide decree No. 73 of 1999 is a scheme designed to provide compensation to employees who suffer from accidents at work or sustain injuries or disabilities. Not only that, but it also provides compensation to the next-of-kin who dies in the course of work. Sadly, most people aren’t aware of it. The most beautiful aspect of this scheme is that it covers even self-employed people. Had our labourers on site joined the scheme, it would have covered them. At least it would have alienated the suffering of most injured workers on our construction site.
We need to do things right for us to leave a good legacy for the unborn generation.
Tajuddeen Ahmad Tijjani writes from Galadima Mahmoud Street, Kasuwar kaji Azare, Bauchi State.