ARCON calls out N/Assembly for action on National Building Code

Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON), the regulatory body for the practice of Architecture profession in Nigeria, has drawn the attention of the National Assembly to the need for a law to give legal backing to the country’s National Building Code.

Umar Murnai, the ARCON Registrar, who made this call, explained that the absence of an enabling legislation for the code was the reason for its ineffectiveness in regulating procedures and processes in the nation’s real estate industry.

Murnai spoke in Abuja recently at a week-long programme organized by the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN).

The programme with the theme, ‘Domestication and Development of Codes, Standards and Regulations as Panacea for Engineering Infrastructural Failure in Nigeria’ brought together engineers within and beyond the country.

The ARCON chief who spoke on ‘National Building Code: Challenges and Solutions for Modern Infrastructure’, noted that the code was yet to be backed by any legislation, hence most professionals were yet to accept it as a document to guide them, let alone members of the public who were always apprehensive of new ideas.

“Though the code provides that all state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) should domesticate the document, many of the states do not have the full document in operation,” Murnai said.

Continuing, he explained, “the building code was aimed to establish minimum requirements to safeguard public health, safety and general welfare in the process of pre-design, design, construction and post-construction stages of the life cycle of buildings and structures.”

He added that, by implication, the code applies, in terms of control of all matters concerning the design and specifications, cost effectiveness, construction, alteration, addition to moving, demolition, location, repair and use of any building or structure, for existing or proposed building work accordingly.

He explained further that building code and regulations existed to safeguard public health and general welfare from fire and other hazards attributed to built environment.

The building regulatory system, he said, was to minimize the risk commonly associated with buildings such as fire, structural integrity, means of escape in an emergency and so forth.

“The code was produced and approved in 2006 for use in Nigeria. It is to, among other things, address incessant collapse of buildings, fire incidents in buildings and other disasters, including dearth of referenced design materials for professionals and use of non-professional.

Read also: Engineers, builders urged to follow physical planning laws

It also includes use of untested products and materials; inadequate planning of our towns, cities and other built environment abuses; lack of adequate regulations and sanctions for non-compliance; inadequate database to aid sustainable building process,” he said.

Apart from lack of legal framework for the code despite its existence since 2006, Murnai also said that the code was confronted with other obstacles that need careful analysis in order to comprehend and find solutions for modern infrastructural development.

He noted that the major challenges could be attributed to the complexities in the code, lack of capacity building among the relevant stakeholders, lack of technical training of building code users and assistance, lack of legislation for enforcement and compliance, inadequate awareness and government attitude are militating against the development of the national building code.

He pointed out, however, that most of the challenges could be minimised through proactive training, raising awareness, provision of resourceful and technical support to the code users so also legislation on the enforcement and compliance, simplifying the code requirements and domestication by state governments.

The architect added that enlightenment among the professionals through the regulatory bodies and professional bodies will go a long way in providing solutions to the challenges of building code for modern infrastructural development in Nigeria.

He urged professionals in the built environment to appreciate the efforts made to have a code which is a guide to providing services in terms of best practices, adding that there was need for training and re-training of all professionals within the built environment, lecturers, artisans and so on.

He charged members of the public who provide services with respect to buildings and infrastructure and above all the owners and users to be in tune with the code.

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