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National Building Code Should Be Reviewed, Ratified And Properly Enforced – Enobakhare

Engineer Osaz Enobhakare
Posted: Jul 12, 2016 at 10:02 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Engineer Osaz Enobakhare is a developer, structural engineer and Chief Executive Officer of Heavens Contractors Limited. He has been involved in the design and construction of buildings, roads and infrastructural projects across the length and breadth of Nigeria. Correspondent, NKASIOBI OLUIKPE had a chat with him.  Excerpts:


Engineer Osaz Enobhakare

Engineer Osaz Enobhakare

In the face of climate change/global warming and its attendant environmental impacts, what are structural engineers doing to braze up to the challenges?

Basically, Structural Engineers all over are getting acquainted with the dynamics of the environment and how to marry them perfectly with the technical knowledge already gained on structural codes, tests, analysis, designs and implementation.

For instance let’s take on buildings, before now structural engineers used to focus only on ensuring that structural materials, elements and components meets the basic functional requirements of strength, stability, durability, resistance to internal and external forces and so on, presently we have gone beyond that to factors of structural adaptability.

We are constantly researching and implementing smart home concepts and intelligent construction technologies that aim to make a structure adapt perfectly to the harsh conditions of the environment and also allow structural elements relate to electrically-enabled sensors in a way to achieve the right inter-relational co-efficient that reduces environmental impact from the foundation to the roof tops.



When embarking on an urban renewal exercise, what becomes of old structures?

What urban renewal exercises aim to achieve is to clear, re-organise and re-develop slums or areas with failed environment. In the process, failed buildings and infrastructure are to be re-built. But, while the government will normally concentrate on developing the infrastructure aspect, it is often the responsibility of building owners to put their structures in order.

Old ‘failing’ structures with perhaps primitive designs can make a mess of a renewal project. Owners of these structures can either demolish-and-rebuild them or go for cheaper options; one of which is to underpin-and-renovate them to meet modern standards.

However, it has been observed that if the right incentive or enforcement of the relevant development and environmental regulations are not provided or carried out by the authorities after a renewal, in no distant time the area will be back as a slumville.



When working on a project and a restrictive contractual agreement conflicts with the reality on ground. Added to this, if you don’t have access to the owner or client, but only deals with the contractor, what do you do?

Situations of this nature are not uncommon. Let me share two of my experiences with you.  On one occasion, I was contracted to handle a multi-storey shopping arcade in Lekki as a subcontractor by a consultant/main contractor very recently.

Having gone through the project documents, I asked for the soil test report so I could use it to prepare the structural design and subsequently move to site. The Contractor declined and stated expressly that there was neither a soil test report available for the site nor is there any plan to even embark on such all-important test and was about compelling me to do guesswork.

He claimed it was not included in the budget and the contract was a fixed-type. I simply turned down the offer and moved on to the next project because I understand the implication of doing such.

On another occasion, I was to construct a multi-storey residential project in the east. The client’s consultant handed over the set of designs to me and as I was about to begin construction on site, I realised that the structural design was grossly inconsistent with what was on ground.

Then I called on the consultant (an Architect) who later disclosed to me that although the money for the engineering design was actually released to him, but perhaps out of greed rather than get a qualified structural engineer to prepare it, he did it all by himself and subsequently pleaded that I do not disclose his wrongdoing to the unsuspecting client.

I had to halt work, do a soil test and a correct engineering design before proceeding; all these came at an extra cost.

I strongly advise my colleagues to always do the right thing at all times.



Which will you adopt between performance-based engineering and prescriptive code?

Both! I normally adopt both approaches systematically taking advantage of their numerous benefits, but not allowing the application of one impede on the fundamentals of the other.

For instance we are restrained by law to use prescriptive codes to guide our designs, which is very cool. However, during construction on site, I do introduce performance-based approach to actualise specific client or environmental requirements but in a manner that is still not in contrast with the code.



Lateral defects are sometimes unavoidable; how do you mitigate against such in structures erected at critical locations?

Seriously it may be difficult to achieve a 100% defect-free structure. But using the right blend of materials, methods and technologies, defects whether lateral (i.e. occurring in form of cracks, bulges, deviations, over-settlements, and so on) or other forms can be reduced to the barest minimum. Irrespective of the location whether critical or otherwise, if you don’t get it right from the design and then during construction bottom-up, defects would definitely arise and stare you in the face.



Can persistent thunder, vibrations, etc bring about inter-storey drift? If yes, is it possible to guard against it?

Yes, several cases of such movements within single and multi-storey buildings and towers have been reported by building occupiers, built environment professionals and even seismologists the world over.

The effect of thunderstorms, vibrations, excessive wind pressures and other harsh external weather conditions can be cushioned by a combination of all the following; installation of thunder breakers, specially-engineered core columns and the use of structurally-efficient walling and flooring materials. There have also been improvements in the design and construction of structures to be able to withstand natural disasters like earthquakes, tumor, tornados, volcanic eruptions, storms and so on.



What policy measures would you recommend that government should put in place to rescue the housing sector?

I would strongly recommend the implementation of social housing approaches to mass housing development. Over the years, the upper and middle classes have been largely served but the lower class that form a greater chunk of the un-housed population are still very much underserved or largely excluded.

Social housing can correct some of these anomalies in housing distribution. The rent-to-own initiative and the restructuring of the mortgage refinancing setups by the past administration are equally laudable and should be reinforced rather than discarded. They should be expanded to include more beneficiaries and subscribers.

Many stakeholders have called for a review of the Land Use Act to enable greater flexibility and ease of access to land and titles for housing development. This is long overdue.

In like manner also, the National Building Code should be reviewed, ratified and properly enforced to control the quality of building works across the country vis-à-vis the roles of the various relevant industry professionals. This would greatly sanitise the industry as well as reduce the already alarming rate or incidents building collapse.

Then, there is need to review interest rates downward, especially housing development loans and mortgage facilities which affect developers and home-owners or intending ones as wellGenerally, any policy that would eventually lower housing production and acquisition costs and promote the use of home-made or made-in-Nigeria alternative building materials is good for the ‘rescue’.



What are the challenges facing the structural engineering practice in Nigeria?

Not much. In terms of building works, I observed that since building collapse became a serious national issue, structural engineering have come to the spotlight. More and more project owners now understand the role and relevance of structural engineers and can trust us. Before now most people used to think we are only into roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

But, there are quacks roaming about the industry in their numbers and people often think that all site engineers are structural engineers. That is still an issue. Notwithstanding, the onus is on us to sustain the trust people have vested in us.