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Building Collapse: COREN Seeks Death Penalty For Culprits

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SAN FRANCISCO, May 13, (THEWILL) â€' Worried by the increasing spate of building collapse in the country, the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) Tuesday recommended death penalty for unethical practices that may cause collapse of buildings in the country.

COREN President, Ali Kasim, made the recommendation at the opening of a two-day public hearing organised by the House ad hoc committee on the composition and pigmentation of cement quality with the view to stemming the incessant building collapse in the country.

The COREN president also advocated additional statutory power that will enable the Council prosecute owners and quacks involved in the collapsed structures across the country.

He said it was high time that incidences of collapse building were criminalised as he stressed the need for imposition of stiffer penalties for those who engage quacks for construction of any collapsed building across the country, noting that most of the owners of collapsed buildings are 'very strong that government cannot bring them to book.'

He maintained that necessary control measures have been put in place to ensure that all professionals involved in the construction of any houses, endorse their stamps on relevant drawings.

The COREN boss expressed dismay at the negative impression created at the international scene by the recurring cases of building collapse, noting that the Council, on regular basis, conduct third-party evaluation of building construction.

While declaring open the public hearing, Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, stressed the need to sustain the tempo of development achieved so far by the present administration including the rebasing that placed Nigeria as the leading economy in Africa.

'Nigeria has in the last few years been investing huge resources in infrastructure from roads, bridges, and aviation terminals, to railway rehabilitation and sundry projects.

'The country has also woken up to the need of promoting agricultural development. In sustaining this tempo of development, the use of cement and other construction materials cannot be over-emphasised, especially because virtually all these projects use the product in one form or the other,' he said.

The speaker also commended the cement manufacturers association in its bid to make Nigeria self-sufficient in cement production, reduce capital flight and employment generation for the teeming unemployed youths across the country.

While reacting to the spate of building collapses, the Speaker said:

'It is sad that Nigeria with such a well-trained manpower in engineering and other related professionals has continued to witness the collapse of buildings across the length and breadth of the country. This is no longer acceptable.'

In his opening remarks, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, chairman of the ad-hoc committee, stressed the need for various government agencies to ensure strict enforcement of the laws passed by the National Assembly for the betterment of Nigerians.

Dogara, who expressed regrets over the spate of building collapse across the country, noted that the serial incidence of building collapse has become a source of anxiety as well as industry, social and media concerns of recent and brought it to front burners of national discourse.

'From 1974 to 2010, it is estimated that building collapse claimed about 297 lives where data is available. In Lagos alone, from 2000 to 2010 about 151 lives were lost due to this menace.

'These numbers do not take into account the injured as well as many cases of varying degrees of permanent disabilities. Material losses, if properly quantified, will be in billions of naira.

'It is regrettable that as this menace ravage our people and environment, the relevant stakeholders and regulators have failed to summon the necessary will to end it at once. As usual, we are engaged in passing the buck and avoiding responsibility. This is most unacceptable in the context of the Nigeria of our dreams.'