Ikoyi Building: structural engineers blame collapse of original design change

Onwuamaeze dike

The Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (NIStructE) attributed the cause of the building collapse on Gerald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos State, on November 1, to several variations from the original design of the building which was originally to be of six floors, but was later increased to 21 floors.

NIStructE’s view was contained in a statement obtained yesterday, which was signed by NIStructE President Dr Kehinde B. Osifala.

Osifala explained, “There are clear indications of several brief design changes on the project and the engineering and management of these changes appear to have been seriously inadequate. The collapsed building was originally designed for just six stories, and later 12 stories, before it was turned into 15 stories.

“It has not yet been possible to establish the adequacy of a properly designed and documented subsequent overhaul of the eventual (and tragically, final) twenty-one (21) floors that were being implemented and which collapsed. “

He also said that the preliminary investigation into the collapsed building showed that “there are also indications that more than two structural engineering design firms worked on the project at different times.

“The preliminary investigation also revealed signs of structural insufficiency in the construction and that signs of structural deterioration had already started to appear in certain elements of the building. Some corrective actions were already taken to address some of these issues. The method of implementing this was not in accordance with good structural engineering practice.

Further, Osifala explained that “the lack of proper quality control and quality assurance measures and processes during construction had become evident, as evidenced by the poor quality of concrete materials and workmanship observed during construction. examining the debris from the collapse.

“All of the above results, which are very important from a structural engineering point of view, need to be further explored during the detailed investigation phase so that all factors related to the cause (s) of the collapse can be genuinely established and the appropriate lessons identified. and implemented.

“We expect that the various committees that are being set up will have full access to much more information (such as all structural drawings, calculations, documents prepared and submitted for approval. from planning and construction, material test results, site instructions and records, meeting minutes, more eyewitness accounts, etc. ”

The institute said that a thorough and comprehensive structural integrity assessment should be carried out on the other two buildings respectively located on the same site, in the light of preliminary information already gathered on the observed deficiencies of the collapsed building.

Osifala advised members of the public to always hire only competent and capable registered professionals on their projects, adding that “it is extremely important that the assessment be carried out by qualified and registered structural engineers who have the required experience.” .

He said that a “structural integrity assessment” should not be limited to performing non-destructive testing to assess the properties of concrete, but should be “a full and comprehensive assessment of the structural engineering of the assembly. of the structure, which is adapted to correspond to all the objectives of the evaluation. Only after this can a certificate of good health be confirmed for the building.

“The Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (NIStructE) maintains a register of its registered members and can be consulted on any matter of structural importance or concern,” he said.

He further said the institute had waited this long to gather verifiable information and conduct a physical assessment of the collapsed building before making its views public.

“We are now in a position to make factual statements and provide advice to the general public which will hopefully be enlightening but also reassuring that structures once well designed and implemented with the use of the appropriate professionals should remain. safe throughout their lifespan.

“As these conclusions remain preliminary until the recommended in-depth investigation is conducted and the results of the various government and institutional panels have been determined, we should in no way compromise the results of the more detailed investigations organized by various professionals and regulators, we believe the outcome of our preliminary investigation will give a general indication of what likely led to this unfortunate incident, ”he added.

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