Engineers demand forensic investigation of collapsed Lagos building

Oluwanifemi Ojo
Oluwanifemi Ojo
Collapsed building in Banana Island, Lagos State

The Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers has suggested carrying out a forensic investigation into the building collapse that took place at Close 102, 1st Avenue, Banana Island in Lagos.

This was revealed in a  report titled “Preliminary Report of the Building Collapse at Close 102, 1st Avenue, Banana Island, Lagos”, accessed by The Punch.

According to the report, a group from the institution went to the location of the collapsed building to conduct a preliminary evaluation and collect pertinent details about the structure. As a result, the report offers suggestions based on their findings

It reads, “Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, in one of its releases, attributed the collapse to the pre-mixed concrete truck that ran into a load-bearing column of the building. A study of the area and the pictures revealed that the truck was probably discharging its concrete for the concrete work that was ongoing on the 6th floor. The site is tight and there could have been no room for the truck to have gathered enough momentum for an excessive lateral force. If this was truly the case, it could only confirm an inadequate design and detailing coupled with poor workmanship and construction supervision.

“Flat slab design in reinforced concrete high-rise building structures can be advantageous in terms of flexibility, construction time, and cost savings. However, it is important to consider the limitations and potential drawbacks associated with this design approach to ensure that the building can meet structural and safety requirements.

The report also noted that the defects uncovered during the site inspection raise doubts about whether the design and construction of all the blocks adequately took into account structural and safety requirements.

It added, “Depending on the location and orientation of the column, especially for an edge or a corner column, the force may cause the column to lean or topple over, which can result in a domino effect of collapsing floors and columns as it seemed for this building.”

The report noted that it was uncertain whether the collapse was caused by mistakes in the design, deficiencies in the construction process, human errors, or a combination of these factors.

It added, “The remaining blocks A, B, and D were said to have been of similar structural arrangement and design. These blocks have already shown signs of at least poor construction supervision. It is, therefore, imperative that they be subjected to a thorough structural assessment prior to their continued construction or otherwise.

“There is a need for further detailed structural investigation to be undertaken to provide sufficient information required to unravel the root cause of the collapse and proffer measures to forestall future occurrence.”

Regarding the course of action, the report advised that the other blocks should be barricaded and supported promptly to enable a comprehensive structural evaluation to be conducted to determine whether they are secure and appropriate for use.

“A full and detailed structural/forensic investigation is recommended to be carried out to unravel the cause(s) of the collapse and determine whether anyone was culpable, and the appropriate sanction applied to serve as a deterrent, unmask the project team, that is, the design professionals, the supervising team and the contractors, ascertain the adequacy of the structural design, probe the quality of workmanship, confirm the quality of the reinforcement and concrete materials used, and establish level/adequacy of supervision carried out during construction, and identify the role played by various individuals, professionals, and Government Agencies,” it recommended

The report also requested that, “All as-built structural drawings/design and other relevant drawings related to the construction of the buildings should be made available for a detailed review, the quality control and quality assurance documents, soil test report, and pile load test/pile integrity test report should also be made available for review. The result of the investigation should be made available to professionals in the field so that the experience gained could be shared for lessons to be learned. There should be a re-organisation in all sectors of the built industry including the supervising government organs.”

Providing an advice the right competencies, it stated “Civil engineers must not be assigned to carry out structural engineering works unless they are certified structural engineers. Experienced structural engineers must be engaged to design and supervise this level of the building and other complex structural engineering works. This should apply to both the public and private sectors.”

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