By NBF News

FOLLOWING incessant structural failure and its attendant consequences on life and properties, professional structural engineers have urged the government to make it mandatory for firms carrying out structural construction work to have engineers in their employment.

They also canvassed for insurance companies to insist on the structural integrity reports prepared by a structural engineer before insuring any structure above 10 years old and certificate of fitness for new structures duly signed by certified practitioner.

The engineers on aegis of the Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (NISE) at the end of its 23rd Annual General Meeting (AGM) emphasised the use of certified structural engineers in the design of buildings and other related infrastructure.

According to a statement by the body, there is need to implement the existing laws relating to regulation of structural engineering practice and involvement of professionals in all relevant areas.

The institution said Council for Registration of Engineering (COREN) should also expedite action on the establishment of the relevant monitoring bodies for engineering structures all over the country and empower them to employ the necessary sanction against any erring firm or developer.

Speaking on 'Collapse of Engineering Structures: Causes, Implications and Prevention,' President, Nigerian Academy of Engineering, Dr. Edet Amana, noted that incidence of building collapse are increasing in the country at an alarming rate but are not subjected to detailed scrutiny necessary to determine the exact causes of collapse.

According to Amana, this situation limits the extent of learning derived from various incidences of collapse building, adding that, there is need to set up a strong forensic arm in NISE with laid down procedures to apply to any situation of failure or collapse.

Amana said: 'Such an arm would liaise with the building regulatory authorities to ensure that the stakeholders in a building collapse situation are made to pay for the forensic activity.

To him, there is need to regulate that every collapse should be duly investigated not necessarily to apportion blame, but also to learn valuable lessons.

He also noted the need to enforce the principle of 'Engineer of Record' in every construction project and make such engineers undertake special training in the non-technical aspects of their role such as risk management, interpersonal skills, project management and to ensure that every project under execution is supervised by qualified professionals 'to ensure successful execution based on well executed design and in line with international best practices'.

He also maintained that the fact that the collapse of structures usually claims lives and properties had negative impact on the reputation of structural engineers, 'This underscores the need to carefully study, document and review each incidence of collapse in order to learn new lessons, avoid future collapses and progress the science and art of structural engineering'.

The Institution's President, Mr. Victor Oyenuga, said the political will of the government at all level is required, noting that the institution is up to the task and confident to succeed.

Oyenuga disclosed that since about a year ago when he took over the leadership of the institution, the body has set out to combat the incessant collapse of buildings in the country and that it appears they are still far from winning the battle.