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WorldSix reasons why so many buildings collapse

04:30  15 march  2019
04:30  15 march  2019 Source:   bbc.com

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After a building collapsed in Kenya last week, killing at least 33 people, experts look at some reasons why such incidents occur in Africa. The six -storey residence in Kenya's capital Nairobi came down in heavy rain, with more than 80 people still missing. While investigations are still underway into the

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Six reasons why so many buildings collapse© Reuters Children from the Lagos school could still trapped under the rubble

After a building collapsed in the Nigerian city of Lagos, killing at least 11 people, including several schoolchildren attending a school on the building's top floor, we look at some reasons why such tragedies seem to occur so often in some African countries.

While investigations are still underway into the cause of this collapse, engineers have told us some common problems.

1. The foundations are too weak

Adequate foundations can be costly.

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After a building collapsed in Kenya last week, killing at least 33 people, experts look at some reasons why such incidents occur in Africa. The six -storey residence in Kenya's capital Nairobi came down in heavy rain, with more than 80 people still missing.

The six -storey residence in Kenya's capital Nairobi came down in 1 of 14. 5/9/2016 6 :10 AM. Five reasons why buildings collapse - BBC News. There are many physical reasons a building can collapse but only one driving motivation for that to happen, says Mr Ede.

They can cost up to half the price of a building, observes professor of civil engineering Anthony Ede at Covenant University in Ota, Nigeria.

He says two things should be considered when you are building the foundations - the solidity of the soil and the heaviness of the building and its contents.

In Lagos, the swampy ground requires strong foundations. Far stronger than solid ground.

But he says developers save money that should be spent on foundations when building on the city's swampy ground and many buildings have collapsed in the city as a result.

Even on solid ground, foundations need to be strong enough for the load.

Inadequate foundations for a four-storey building was one of three reasons given by investigators for a building collapsing in northern Rwanda in 2013, killing six people.

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Another major reason for building collapse is that the owners of buildings are irresponsible and have no concern for the condition of their buildings . The old buildings are left in dilapidated conditions and are never repaired. Even when structural cracks begin to appear, no actions are taken

Six reasons why so many buildings collapse© AFP More than 30 people were rescued alive after a building collapsed in Nyagatare, north-eastern Rwanda in 2013

2. The building materials aren't strong enough

Materials that just aren't strong enough to withhold the load are sometimes used, says Hermogene Nsengimana from the African Organization for Standardisation, whose organisation met in 2016 in Nairobi to discuss why so many African buildings collapse.

He suggests there is a market for counterfeit materials - going as far as to say that sometimes scrap metal is used instead of steel.

Six reasons why so many buildings collapse© EPA A collapsed building killed at least 33 in Nairobi in 2016

When a six-storey building in Uganda's capital Kampala collapsed in April 2016, the director of the city authority suggested it had been constructed with counterfeit materials, reports Ugo news site.

Mr Nsengimana says there are even cases of counterfeiters faking authentification certificates.

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But he suggests contractors also knowingly use the incorrect materials to cut costs.

So they may use concrete intended to bear the load of a one-storey building in a four-storey building.

Mr Ede adds that this is something regulators are not policing.

3. Workers make mistakes

Even when workers are given the right materials to make the concrete, they mix them incorrectly, says Mr Ede.

This results in concrete which is not of the sufficient strength to hold the load.

He accuses developers of cutting costs by employing unskilled workers who are cheaper than trained builders.

This is one of the reasons put forward by civil engineers Henry Mwanaki Alinaitwe and Stephen Ekolu to explain why a building in Uganda collapsed in 2004.

Their research shows that the workers misunderstood the mixing ratios of the concrete.

It suggested that people used wheelbarrows instead of measuring gauges to measure cement.

The five-storey BBJ new hotel collapsed in construction and 11 people died.

"You find bricklayers and even technicians calling themselves engineers," cautions the president of the Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers Oreoluwa Fadayomi in Nigeria's The Punch news site.

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The collapse could have been avoided if the antiquated bridge had been reinforced or replaced Most collapses happen on bridges that were built a long time ago when designers couldn’t imagine the Thanks a lot for explaining different reasons for failures of bridges so that while building a bridge

A six storey building that collapsed in Huruma, Nairobi, on April 29 last year is a good example of this kind of negligence. Although there are many reasons as to why a building may collapse , most of the incidents in Kenya seem to be driven by greed for wealth and corruption.

To those who want to save money on professionals, he advises: "One should not be penny wise and pound foolish".

Nigerian building collapses

  • 199 people died in four Nigerian collapsed buildings between 2014 and 2016, according to the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute.
  • 2012: 33 building collapses in Lagos and 22 in Abuja, according to housing ministry figures
  • 2013: 17 building collapses in Lagos and 20 in Abuja
  • 2014: 13 building collapse in Lagos and two in Abuja
  • More than 54 cases of collapsed buildings were recorded in 2017 across Nigeria
  • The latest collapse was the third so far in 2019

4. The load is heavier than expected

Mr Ede says a building collapses when the load is beyond the strength of the building.

He gives the example of asking a baby to carry a heavy box: "The baby will not be able to withhold the strain."

Even if the foundations and the materials are strong enough for what they were originally built for, that purpose may change.

So, Mr Ede says, if a building was designed to be a home and is then turned into a library where boxes and boxes of books are piled up, the building may strain under the weight.

He says another reason why the load is often heavier than the original design is because extra storeys are added.

In March 2016, an upmarket apartment block which had more storeys than planned collapsed in Lagos, killing 34 people the Guardian reported.

Eight dead, 37 rescued in Nigeria school collapse

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Who knew it would collapse and why ? If there was advance warning of this event it should be known. It may silence those who believe it was a conspiracy. It does seem like a conspiracy at first especially when you consider how the BBC predicted what building out of the many buildings surrounding the

So Why Did It Collapse So Easily? Most of the buildings that fell appear to have been built before the 1985 earthquake and the new rules. But others were more recent, including the apartment block where Resendiz lived in the southern Portales neighborhood, which only opened its doors in January.

This came two years after a church accommodation for the famous preacher TB Joshua collapsed, also, authorities said, because it had more floors than it could hold. In that case more than 100 people lost their lives.

5. The strength isn't tested

At all points of construction the strength of the building should be tested, says Mr Ede.

"You have to be strict," he says, about policing building.

Six reasons why so many buildings collapse© AFP This girl was rescued from a collapsed building in Kenya in 2016

"The law says you must test. It's the enforcement of the law which is the problem," he says.

That's a big problem, he says, when at every stage of construction there is someone with a strong motivation to save money or take money.

There are many physical reasons a building can collapse but only one driving motivation for that to happen, says Mr Ede. That's money.

And for him this is the real reason buildings collapse - corruption.

The story doesn't end there.

Just because unsafe buildings are constructed, it doesn't mean anyone has to die - the buildings can be knocked down.

And that is what does happen next.

But things go wrong in those situations too, leading to the loss of life.

6. People stay in condemned buildings

In the case of the building that collapsed on Wednesday, the building had been condemned as unsafe in 2017 and marked for demolition.

Given this, a key question being asked about the tragedy is: Why was there a school in the building?

The Lagos State Building Control Agency said in a statement that it was marked as distressed in 2017, and had remained empty but then "the recalcitrant owner renovated the building with gravel as granite without carrying out a thorough engineering appraisal and integrity test on the structure and let it out for use".

It was a four-storey, multi-purpose building with a primary school on the top floor.

One reason why residents didn't listen to the Lagos State government order is given by engineer Felicia Nnenna Agubata.

She told the BBC that building inspectors are not backed up by security officers who can enforce evacuations.

So they can ask nicely, but those requests are often ignored.

This is an updated version of an article from 2016 looking at why buildings collapse.

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