Stakeholders canvass enforcement of National Building Code

State governments and stakeholders in the built environment have been urged to enforce the revised National Building Code in order to enthrone best practices in the building construction industry, OKECHUKWU NNODIM writes

Against the backdrop of unwholesome practices in the building construction industry, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Amal Pepple, has urged state governments and other stakeholders to uphold the provisions of the revised National Building Code.

Pepple and other industry professionals spoke at a stakeholders’ validation workshop on the revised NBC in Abuja last week.

The minister said, “If this revised NBC is to effectively serve as a mechanism to ensure the safety and protection of all of us from preventable hazards, which could be life threatening in the construction and housing industry, the state governments must lead the drive to institutionalise it through adaptation, legislation and enforcement.

“It is in this regard that I fervently hope that the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory Administration will ensure that the NBC is adapted and adopted by the executive arm of government as a regulatory tool in their spheres of influence. It should be enacted by their respective legislatures as part of their jurisdictional code after it has undergone the formal process of approval by the highest level of government.”

The first edition of the NBC was published in 2006, and the government and other stakeholders involved in its enactment agreed that it should be reviewed every three years to update it and correct identified lapses and omissions in the preceding editions, and align it with government’s current policy direction.

According to the stakeholders, the review is also informed by the need to incorporate the emerging global trends and innovative practices into the revised NBC as they affect the construction and building industry.

They noted that it was in this regard that the revised code had been updated to ensure proper alignment with the International Building Code, having been inspired by the latter.

The stakeholders noted that a separate section for fire protection system in the code had been provided to emphasise the seriousness of fire hazards in buildings.

Other key elements of the code include its enhanced provision on general building requirements, which has been expanded to include urban planning requirements, while there are additional provisions on green building initiatives and energy efficiency.

Pepple stated that the NBC was a requirement for institutionalising a minimum acceptable level of safety in the construction of buildings in order to protect public health, ensure public safety and general wellbeing.

She observed that it was by enforcing the provisions of the code that the safety of lives and property from all manner of hazards, particularly those relating to the occupancy of buildings, structures or premises could be assured without any inhibitions.

Citing the Code of Hammurabi, which was developed by the Babylonian emperor in the early 1800BC that mandated capital punishment for owners of collapsed buildings, the minister said landlords of poor structures should be grateful that the days of such unusually strict rules were gone.

Pepple said, “We should be thankful that we are not living in the dispensation of Emperor Hammurabi, requiring us to pay heavily with our lives for our lapses or errors. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the present age tolerates lower standards by encouraging us to be less concerned about the safety of lives and property.

“On the contrary, the new age demands higher standards, bearing in mind that we are in a rapidly globalising and interconnected world in which we are expected to conform to certain minimum standards and ethical practices in discharging our responsibilities.”

The minister said if many countries were setting new benchmarks in prescribing, maintaining and enforcing their respective national minimum standards in building construction and building systems, Nigeria could not afford to be left behind.

Pepple urged stakeholders at the event to take urgent steps to ameliorate the effects of the dangers of inadequate construction and improperly built structures.

This, she said, entailed effective regulation and governance of the human settlement sector through the development of appropriate codes and legislation in order to energise the sector towards ensuring its rapid transformation.

She said, “I am optimistic that after this validation exercise, the adoption of the revised NBC and its dissemination to the public as well as its effective implementation by all relevant stakeholders, our beloved nation will be greatly assisted in dealing with some of the perennial problems in the human settlement sector.

“These include intermittent, but deadly fire hazards, rising occurrences of building collapse, rampart use of substandard materials in building construction, new wave of flooding, endemic and improper housing maintenance as well as unhealthy construction practices, which impact negatively on the eco-balance and eco-friendliness.”

Earlier in his address, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Ibrahim Mahe, said the validation workshop was aimed at providing a platform for stakeholders in the built environment to consider and make necessary inputs into the draft revised NBC.

He said the NBC was enacted in 2006 to put a stop to the ugly trends in the building construction industry; eliminate or reduce to the barest minimum incidences of collapsed building syndrome in the country; and promote safety and qualitative housing for every Nigerian.

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