Flooding: Experts advocate integrity test on submerged buildings

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The Federal Government has been urged to carry out integrity tests on structures affected by flood before people are allowed to occupy such buildings.

No fewer than 45,249 houses were reportedly affected by flood across some states of the federation.

Some of the houses, including storey buildings, were covered in the flood up to roof level.

Speaking in an interview with Sunday PUNCH, the immediate past President, Nigerian Institute of Building and  former president of Building Collapse Prevention Guild, Kunle Awobodu, said at the end of the flood crisis, such houses should be placed under integrity test before people are allowed to return there.

According to him, this will guide against building collapse on occupants who will return to the buildings without professional checks.

He said, “With this recent development, buildings that are shoddily constructed will not stand any resistance to flooding.

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“Such buildings, if they survive the flooding period, needs to be re-examined for stability after the flood has subsided because during the time of flooding, there would have been some level of encroachment into the foundation and the soil under the foundation may also have been eroded.

“This could lead to defect of the building. So, there is need to establish that the soil around the building and underneath the foundation is not eroded. These are paramount preliminary tests that should be done so that occupants of the building will not be subjected to unnecessary danger.

“Also, there is this fear of chemical reactions. When there is flooding, water carries different chemicals, oil from chemical workshops, fertilizers etc, after some days of the erosion, chloride and sulphuric attack and this can react on the buildings. So, these things need to be checked before occupants are allowed to go back to their buildings.”

In the same vein, the Vice Chairman, Estate Surveyor and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria, Steven Jagun, expressed the need for adequate integrity tests before occupants would be allowed to go back to their buildings after the flooding.

“In simple science, if water soaks anything, it affects it. Even if buildings are not completed, if water soaks it over time, it will start breaking. The iron in the building will lose its strength. Sometimes, the effect may not be felt immediately but overtime the building will start giving way. So it’s better for people to do integrity tests to see the strength of the building to guarantee that it’s still safe to occupy,” he added.