Ikoyi building collapse: Index of multi-layered failed system

Ikoyi district of Lagos has been associated with two unsavoury tales of national interest in the last four years, such that it can comparatively suit the title of Anezj Okoro’s 1972 novel: “One Week One Trouble.” In April 12, 2017, history recorded the infamous Ikoygate scandal. Today, we rue a building collapse, with estimated scores of deaths, and sundry damage in the same town
Humanity bled in Ikoyi. It spells deep contrariety to the acclaimed Centre of Excellence of Lagos. From centre of the fury came cries of agony and shouts of horrow.

But more to it, Ikoyi is fast becoming a pointer to as many rots that lace most sectors of our national life. Yes, the collapse of that building is an allegory of many compromised system failures of catastrophic height across all sectors in Nigeria. Come to think of it: how many cases of collapsed buildings do we record annually, across the country? That’s in the construction industry. Come to the health sector. How many casualties and avoidable death do the country harvest annually from healthcare workers’ errors of misdiagnosis and/or mistreatments?
Think of transport sector. All land, sea and air transports are full of tales of tears caused by opetators’ negligence of the safety protocols, etc.

A study published in 2019 by Global Construction Review indicated that “there were 43 building collapse incidents in Nigeria in 2019, according to data compiled by the Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG), an advocacy group of built environment professionals.

In the health sector, patient safety and service quality units in hospitals have been established globally (except in Nigeria, where the policy is attenuated) to monitor patients’ care and facilitate the development of clinical protocols for patient safety. And the consequence is seen in a Wikipedia record indicating an estimated 142,000 people died in 2019 from adverse effects of medical treatment around the world. This figure was a conspicuous increase from 94,000 in 1990. And sub-Saharan countries Nigeria and South Asian nations like India accounts for over 61% of that index. Yet MDCN/MLSCN sleeps on duty.

Nigeria’s health care system is very poorly ranked. The various tiers and
service components are operating below standard in line with international best practices. For instance, while other African counties like South Africa have more than three hundred ISO-accredited laboratories and hospitals, Nigeria is struggling to have barely six of such laboratories with a meagre two hospitals (one private and one in military) meeting the standards. This means that health care service delivery in our clime remains relatively substandard. There is also a disproportionate patient to healthcare personnel ratio. And that is why medical tourism is a trending phenomenon among the elites and government officials

In the transport industry, Nigeria is ranked second-highest in the rate of road accidents among 193 countries. Despite progress, road traffic deaths continue to rise, globally with an annual 1.35 million fatalities. Road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of children and young people aged 05-29 years. The risk of a road traffic death remains three times higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries, with rates highest in Africa (26.6 per 100,000 population) and lowest in Europe (9.3 per 100,000 population). Every year, over 39,000  Nigerians die from road crashes. In the 2018 Global Status Report on Road Safety, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated road traffic fatalities in Nigeria at 39,802, while the estimated rate per 100,000 deaths stood at 21.4.

All these tragedies happen at alarming rate here because of one thing — vehement refusal of the black man to conform to set safety rules and quality standards of usage and operation. How many Nigerians, for instance, pull out the leaflets in medicines they buy to read the manufacturer’s guides for the drugs? How many drivers in Nigeria read the user’s manual of their vehicles before they hit the road?

Most cars that were made to carry one passenger in front seat with at most three (in case of emergency) at the rear, carries two passengers at the front seat and four at the back in Nigeria. The car will lose balance of course and both driver and passengers will be exposed to safety challenges, which will cause ancillary damages to lives and properties. And FRSC neglects such danger.

Our building engineers and estate Developers like the FRSC, MDCN/MLSCN are loose in observance and enforcement of quality assurance protocols.

For any system, process or product to be qualified as “quality” such system or process must comply with the standards of international best practices. It must be operative in conformance with the standardized norm.

International Standard Organization (ISO) or as some prefer International organization of standardization is saddled with this function globally.
The organization appends its seal of recognition and authority on any system be it of financial, social, construction, industrial, and institutional setting that imbibe Quality Management System (QMS) in its operation.

So each time you hear Emir Sanusi or Prof. Soludo brag about their feats in enforcing Banking sector reform, just know that they’re referring to their policy which made our banking system and financial institutions conform with ISO standards. Hence, each of the consolidated Banks now has the seal of ISO 9362.

To attain such status means you have a very narrow chances of error in your products finishing, services and results. Consumers’ trust and confidence are rewarded with minimal chances of mistakes in the processes/production of goods and services. It also means the organization/system have both internal and external quality assurance department (QAD) ensuring that non of its technical processes is compromised.

Ikoyi mishap should serve enough wake-up call to regulatory bodies to sit up.

Our construction companies should reduce the costs of bad quality as much as possible, and ensure that the result of its processes comply with the client’s requirements. Both internal and external controls can be carried out. For example, the control of concrete received by the contractor can be carried out by an independent entity; the execution of steelworks can be controlled by the project manager (on behalf of the client), or the construction company can establish an internal control for the execution of the building work.

Why can’t Council for regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) and other regulators in the construction sector, enforce Quality assurance in accordance with ISO 9001

on all Handlers of building projects? Simply put ISO 9001 is a set of planned and systematic actions to ensure that products and services comply with specified requirements. It not only involves checking the final quality of products to avoid defects, as is the case in quality control, but also checking product quality in a planned way in all the production stages. It is the development of work and product design procedures to prevent errors from occurring in the first place, based on planning backed up by quality manuals and tools.

Until we make conscious and deliberate efforts to stop indulging in mediocrity, across boards, similar Ikoyi incidents are inevitable.

May daylight spare us!
Ogechukwu writes from Abuja.


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