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Nation-building and abandoned structures in Nigeria

By most accounts, the swelling sites of abandoned structures across major cities in Nigeria aren’t just eyesores, but are equally physically and environmentally dangerous to the wellbeing of the Nigerian populace.
In fact, the existence of abandoned structures not only defaces the beauty of the cities but pose a serious security threat to the nation as some of them are being used by miscreants.
Interestingly, in recent times, most of the structures that are collapsing in major Nigerian cities especially, Abuja and Lagos, are largely attributed to buildings abandoned for a very long time.
Typically, buildings are erected in a sequence- involving three stages, and a break in the sequence invites trouble depending on several factors, ranging from at what stage was construction abandoned, how long the project left unfinished to how much wind, rain, temperature change and ultraviolet light it was  exposed to. All these can damage or even destroy an unprotected building over time.

Often, after calculating the cost of completing an abandoned building, developers either continue or try to sell it to someone who will complete the job and put them on the market, without first conducting an integrity test  on the structure.
Also, buyers of abandoned buildings are often careless to know if projects they’ve inherited or about to inherit can be salvaged.  Also, developers under financial burden most times cut corners before finally walking away. And these abandoned buildings can sit empty month after month, and even years.

Overtime, experts have observed that any building abandoned for even a few months at preliminary stage of development, especially in high humidity or continuing wetness can get seriously damaged. This is because the longer the exposure, the worse the risk. More so, abandoned buildings have numerous risks involved therein, and entering them could potentially get stranded or physically hurt. And many people are unaware of the types of dangers that exist in these buildings and are drawn to them out of curiosity or despair. These sites are sometimes surrounded by abandoned vehicles or machinery that can leak gasoline, oil or other dangerous and flammable substances.

Equally, these unfinished structures, particularly those within developed areas, often serve as a dump site and public toilet for people living in the area, thereby increasing the chance of outbreak and spread of diseases in the country.  There are many dangerous animals that can often be found in abandoned buildings as well, such as poisonous snakes and poisonous spiders. Others include raccoons, rats and feral cats, which have the ability to carry rabies and diseases, can sometimes be found there looking for food or shelter.

Also, abandoned buildings are often the sites of illegal activity because of how isolated they are. Criminal gangs often turn them into a meeting hall or warehouse to hide stolen goods or drugs. In the same vein, vagabonds equally routinely use these places as shelter during bad weather or as an alternative to sleeping on the streets.
Furthermore, they are sometimes used for the purpose of prostitution, because the buildings are insulated and private. In this connection, drug peddlers and drug users are sometimes attracted to abandoned buildings to sell, make or use drugs without being observed by anyone.

There is no doubting that with the frequency of avoidable building collapse and outbreak of diseases in the country, it’s only pertinent for the relevant authorities – city managers to ensure the deepening of its structural integrity test exercises on many unfinished structures in the country. This would help in curbing the menace, especially its inherent threats to human and environmental well being of the nation.

Yabo Josiah,
Masters Student of Mass Communication Department,
Faulty of Social Science, Nasarawa State University-Keffi,
praisejoeh@yahoo.com.

About Muhammed Adamu