Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers President Emmanuel Wike speaks on the consequences of the Ikoyi building collapse, the need for a strong mortgage program in the country and the importance of implementing the building insurance, in this interview with ADEPEJU ADENUGA
The The collapsed Ikoyi building has drawn the world’s attention to Nigeria and its built sector. Why is the country seeing an increase in building collapses?
I must console the people of Lagos State and the immediate families of those who lost their lives in this collapse. It is very unfortunate that we are still seeing this kind of incident at a time when people are encouraged to invest in the real estate sector to stimulate economic growth. This development will directly and indirectly affect real estate. Directly, in the sense that many people can find it difficult to invest in real estate given that this investment has gone downhill. Indirectly, in the sense that many people would lose their jobs if the sector did not perform very well. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail because the Governor of Lagos State has already inaugurated a panel to investigate the cause and other related issues regarding the building collapse. We are patiently awaiting the outcome of the investigation. We believe that with the caliber of professionals we have in this panel, excellent solutions will be offered to the problem of relentless building collapse in Lagos State and Nigeria.
There are so many reasons for a building to collapse: we have the natural cause and the man-made causes. I think we should focus on man-made causes, which could be the result of multiple reasons. This can be due to faulty designs, faulty construction, neglect, corruption and greed on the part of contractors or regulators. We were told that the contractor had built beyond the number of floors approved by the government. During the time it exceeded the approved number of floors, was the regulator not going to the site? When did the regulator find out about this? When the regulator finally found out about this, why didn’t they stop it? These are the questions we need to consider. Like I said, I will let the panel do their job and maybe they will find the real cause of the Ikoyi building collapse. However, it is time for the professionals of the built environment to come together as it affects our profession, our business and our service to the people. We shouldn’t say we’re not involved or look over the top. It affects us. Built environment professionals and regulators should come together and see how we can build public confidence in the real estate industry.
What lessons would you like government authorities to learn from the Ikoyi building collapse?
The lesson I would like government and the general public to take is that it is time for us to call in qualified professionals, especially in matters that involve life and property. We must maintain the standards and try as much as possible not to compromise at any time. The reason is that if we do (compromise the standard) it would affect the general public, directly or indirectly. Directly look at the lives lost, look at the money that has been lost. We were told that people had already subscribed to the investment. We should allow professionals to do their jobs. Any professional found to be faulty in the cause of their services should be prosecuted so that people can learn from them. If I’m in charge of a site, I should be able to be held responsible if something goes wrong there; this is what distinguishes the person from those who are not professionals. Professionals on sites should be able to defend any position or service they render to clients or the public.
Why don’t many Nigerians have a roof over their heads while many others abandon their housing projects?
There should be a housing policy that allows people to access funds. You find that real estate development or the construction of buildings is capital intensive and not everyone has the financial means to start and complete the construction of a building. We should have a strong mortgage system that will help people pay their rent or develop their properties.
We should embark on research and development where we can develop our local building materials. Most people abandon their housing projects due to the high cost of building materials. Over 50 to 70 percent of building materials used in construction are imported. Due to the high naira-dollar exchange rate, the cost of construction increases. In order for us to reduce this high cost, we must encourage the use of local materials, which the government regulator, Standard Organization of Nigeria, has certified as compliant, and ensure that other building materials meet the standards of the government. construction. We need to allow professionals to do their jobs. For some of the abandoned projects, professionals were not involved from the start. Sometimes you find someone has gone into development somewhere they’re not supposed to be. Ultimately, you find that these projects can be abandoned. Low income people don’t have a roof over their heads because they don’t have the funds to develop their property. Even when the funds are there, the cost of saving those funds is high because the mortgage system is not readily available. Everyone claims to use their savings, and it might not be easy to save due to the high cost of building materials. Even when you have the money, you find that the cost of purchasing the equipment is high. Now when the cost is high, it affects the general cost of construction in the built environment
What are the causes of flooding in so many parts of the country, especially in Lagos?
I am not staying in Lagos, but the principles are the same. Some of the causes of flooding are clogged drains that have not been cleaned in years. The water would take its course. Environmental factors are also involved. The other thing I think is that the rains are coming; what we need to do is prepare for it. We need to make sure that our environments are clean so that there is a free flow of water to water bodies.
Why are homes so expensive, especially in some parts of the country?
Ownership is a localized product, localized in the sense that what happens in Lagos may not be what happens in Port Harcourt. It depends on the location. One of the things that leads to the increase in property value is land. Now when you look at the terrain factor and the construction factor, that gives you a general idea of the price. You find that where the price or value of the land is high, the cost and value of the property would certainly be high. I also mentioned the cost of building in a localized location. By the time you transport some of the materials you have there in Lagos to places like Port Harcourt, for example, the cost of construction will be high. So the cost of construction in Lagos, Port Harcourt or those areas would be high. But when you check the demand factor versus the cost of construction it gives you a higher value and this is one of the reasons why the cost of ownership is higher in these areas. If you can design and build a similar property in Lagos and you build the same property in Imo State; if you want to sell, you will find that property in Lagos would be higher than Imo State due to the land factor.
How does NIESV work with the Nigeria Insurers Association in implementing building insurance in the built environment?
There is a government policy which states that all public buildings must be insured and I am also aware that in Lagos Stare as soon as you start a construction there should be insurance coverage for those who would be working on the site. The bottom line is that in this kind of calamity, the insurance company would take some of the responsibility and pay insurance coverage including compensation to the family. In the future, it is up to us to ensure that policies are in place at each site for an insurance company to reserve coverage. The investor / contractor should ensure that there is insurance coverage over his property and the people working on the site. The NIA is trying to determine if there is indeed insurance coverage and what they are doing is correct. If there is insurance liability, they will pay, but if there is none for the collapsed building, it means the contractor or owner did not do the right job. This is because even as a professional you are supposed to have insurance indemnity coverage for all the work you do, in case you have a job that is not properly done the indemnity covers that work. .
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