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Building collapse: Is the National Building Code a stillbirth?

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By Dada Jackson

Experts and stakeholders in the built environment are worried that the National Building Code bill has not seen the light of day several years after its draft was sent to the National Assembly for a legal backing.

Many experts including the National President of the Nigerian Institute of Building, Kunle Awobodu, are of the view that the building code would have curtailed the embarrassing spate of building collapse being recorded across the country.

The National Building Code (NBC) is a draft document formulated by the seven professional bodies in the built environment for the purpose of putting in place guidelines that will further strengthen the construction industry.

The draft document was sent to the National Assembly for over eight years but up till now, it is still a subject of debate.

There was a time it was learnt that it had passed the third reading and was already at the committee stage of the whole house.

As of the end of the life of the eighth Assembly, nothing was heard of the draft bill.

A former President of the NIOB, Mr Chucks Omeife, posited that it was not the function of the National Assembly to pass the draft bill of the National Building Code into law.

His words: “The responsibility of the National Assembly is not to pass the NBC into law but you provide an enabling law that would back the National Building Code. Up until the life of the 8th Assembly lapsed, nothing was heard about the state of the bill.”

Omeife lamented a situation where the National Assembly is foot-dragging on the issue of providing an enabling law to back the NBC.

Speaking in similar vein, a quantity surveyor, Mr. Wasiu Kareem, wondered why it was taking “eternity” for the National Assembly to do the needful.

According to him, the National Building Code is a well-thought out document which has the input of all the seven professional bodies in the construction industry.

He urged members of the National Assembly to expedite action on the passage of the enabling law in order for the bill to see the light of the day.

On his part, a development economist, Dr. Ifeayin Nwachukwu, opined that the draft bill of the NBC by now ought to have been in use by all relevant professionals and stakeholders in the built environment.

According to him, the coming into fruition of the code would no doubt serve as a guiding tool for everyone that has one thing or the other to go with the construction industry.

He said, “My appeal is to members of the National Assembly who belong to the built environment to spearhead the crusade in seeing that the discussion of the National Building Code is in the front burner.

He expressed the belief that the current Assembly would deem it fit to look in the direction of the bill.

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LASG stakeholders review Osborne Foreshore Residential Scheme 11 approval order

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By Dada Jackson

It was a case of disagreeing to agree as Lagos State Government and stakeholders of Osborne Foreshore Residential Scheme II eventually came to terms on the review of the approval order of the porch estate after much deliberations in which they agreed to allow the process to continue.

Speaking at the Stakeholders’ Meeting/ Presentation on the Review of the Approval Order for Osborne Foreshore Residential Scheme II at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Secretariat, Alausa, the  Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr Idris Salako, said that residents of Osborne Foreshore II, conceived as a low-density residential scheme, had clamoured for the  review by approaching the Ministry to decrease the permissible height among other changes to the previous approval order.

He said, “Consequently, several discussions were held with their Representatives, which culminated in the meeting with Mr. Governor and ultimately the ongoing review.”

Salako noted that the crave for the review of the extant approval order was not unconnected with the observed disparities in the Approval Order of Osborne Foreshore II and that of Banana Island, Ikoyi Southeast and Ikoyi Southwest, despite being of similar status and character.

He pointed out that the need for the review of the Operational Development Plan could not be overemphasized as it would afford timely bridging of identified gaps and inadequacies such as omissions or commissions, in order to make the Plan more comprehensive and effective.

His words: “In essence, Plan Review is a conscious intervention to make an operational Developmental Plan more effective for the Plan Area to be more functional as best possible”.

The Commissioner emphasised that the Ministry was statutorily empowered to prepare Development Plans for different areas as well as provide Approval Orders that were more specific on the intended use, density and operation of the identifiable segments of an area.

He said, “In like manner, the ministry is also statutorily charged to review the existing Development Plans which have been adjudged to be outdated or no longer relevant to achieving the stated goals. Indeed, this is one of the powers of the Hon. Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development as stated in Section 5(1) (a & c) and Section 6 (1) of the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2019 (as amended), which allows for the review/amendment of Development Plans every five (5) years.”

Salako reiterated that the ministry as a government formation was charged with the mandate for sustainability of the physical environment, while the power of development control was vested in the state government and not in any other entity such as the residents association.

“It is therefore noteworthy that the Operative Development Plans are sacrosanct and that the use of any space within the plan area can only be altered through due process of an official review,  contrary to which a change in use becomes illegal. There are provisions in the law for sanctioning of erring development/developers,” he said.

Stating that the government had the obligation to ensure that every part of the state was committed to appropriate use, in order to achieve common social good, economic viability and environmental sustainability, Salako said that the Operative Development Plans had been prepared with due cognizance of the socioeconomic dynamics and the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2019 as amended.

Residents of the estate include the Chairman of the Board of Trustee of the Residents Association, Sir Steve Omojafor, and a seasoned public relations practitioner, Mr Kola Ayanwale, expressed confidence in the ability of the state government to come up with a plan that would be fair to all sides, while urging developers and investors in the estate to balance economics with the environment.

The Chairperson, Osborne Foreshore Residents Association, Chinwe Ezenwa, enjoined the government to consider leaving the estate as low- density to forestall slumming, while others who were mainly developers expressed preference for increasing hieght and density of the estate.

Other notable figures at the meeting include the Chairman, House Committee on Physical Planning and Urban Development, Hon. Nureni Akinsanya, Member of Lagos House of Assembly representing the area, Hon. Gbolahan Yishau, Former Deputy Governor of Kogi State,   Arc. Yomi Awoniyi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Abiola Kosegbe, and Deputy Director, Urban and Regional Planning, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Mrs Catherine Ozonde.

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Lagos moves against illegal building conversion in govt schemes

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By Dada Jackson

The Lagos State Government has restated its commitment to restoring government residential schemes in the state to their original plans as it communicates its intention to commence a week-long monitoring and enforcement in Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1 and Magodo Residential Scheme I and II.

It says it will focus on those who have indiscriminately converted their buildings from residential to commercial.

The Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr Idris Salako, who dropped the hint in his office at Alausa, stated that government schemes ought to remain residential with provision for services as planned but the schemes had been bastardised by indiscriminate conversion of buildings from residential to commercial by some of the residents.

He added that if the pervasive lawlessness in these estates was allowed to go on, the future would spell doom for the carefully designed upper-income residential schemes.

Salako noted that well-meaning residents had inundated the state government with complaints and sought  a redress of the untoward situation.

The commissioner recalled that the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development had engaged and dialogue with residents of the estates severally with a view to righting the wrongs.

“It is noteworthy that engagements with Magodo Phases I and II Residents Association produced the Revised Magodo Scheme I and II which has since become effective”, he said.

He emphasised that indiscriminate conversion of government schemes from residential  to commercial would not be tolerated in Lagos State and urged those liable of any unlawful conversion to brace for the ministry’s enforcement activities.

“Our monitoring and enforcement team will be visiting all other government schemes for similar action in due course. I hereby urge that every part of the state should take a cue from this by desisting from undue conversion of properties without approval of the appropriate authorities,” he said.

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LASG denies violation of planning laws in Osborne Foreshore/Magodo estate

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By Dada Jackson

The Lagos State Government has denied a social media allegation that it is condoning the violation of physical planning laws by some developers in both the Osborne Foreshore Phase II and Peace Valley Estate, Magodo.

The Lagos State Government’s position is contained in a statement issued by the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr Idris Salako, in Alausa.

One Mr Yacoob Abiodun, who claimed to be an urban planner/planning advocate, had taken to the social media alleging that residents of Osborne Foreshore Phase II and Peace Valley Zone, Magodo, were unhappy with the activities of some developers “whose developments on the two estates violate the extant Operative Development Plans and the Approval Order for the localities.”

While expressing his displeasure at the twist of facts by the writer, the Physical Planning Commissioner said that it was important to correct the misinformation to disabuse the minds of Lagosians.

Salako said contrary to the insinuations, the residents of Osborne Foreshore Phase II had  influenced the increase in height of the area from the original 4/5 to 10  floors, while Phase I still remained 4/5 floors.

He explained that the review of the Approval Order for Osborne Foreshore was precipitated by the continuous agitation of the residents as original allottees had brought about increase in the height and density of the estate.

He added that the government only came in to ensure a proper review for the benefit of all concerned.

Dismissing the allegation of noninvolvement of residents in the review, he stated that the ongoing review process was borne out of several consultations and engagements with the resident associations in line with the extant regulations guiding development planning in the state.

The commissioner added that the review could not have been more inclusive, having met with residents of the estate for more than 10 times, the outcome of which was the ministry’s encouragement of the residents association to engage a consultant, Messrs MOA Planners to prepare a revised plan along with the review sent by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.

The revised plan would still be subjected to stakeholders’ engagement before final approval, he stated.

“It is therefore disheartening that despite repeated dialogue, the latest of which was held with the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, three weeks ago, the best that the Osborne-Foreshore Residents Association Phase II (OSFRA) could do was to resort to the social media to intimidate and embarrass the Lagos State Government,” Salako said.

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