By Taiwo Okanlawon
The Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory (LSMTL) on Monday kicked-off the non-destructive test exercise on government-owned school buildings as part of the present administration zero-tolerance for building collapse in the state.
The General Manager of the Agency, Dr. Abiodun Afolabi, who led a delegation of government officials and other stakeholders to Omole Senior Grammar School, Ojodu where the test took off, said the exercise is another significant effort that affirms the commitment of the present administration to reform the Education and Environment sectors in line with the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda.
“We are flagging off the commencement of this exercise, which will be carried out in phases. The first phase includes the conduct of non-destructive tests on 25 selected Primary and Secondary Schools across the State and will last for two weeks”, he said.
“As you are aware, this agency is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring zero-tolerance to building collapse through quality control assurance in building and civil engineering materials and therefore our laboratory is well equipped to carry out various tests to ensure integrity and fitness of buildings and materials alike,” he added.
Afolabi explained further that the non-destructive tests being conducted by the Agency are diagnostic in nature and will reveal any structural defects in the school buildings, adding that similar exercise had been extended to private schools, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, with over 50 educational institutions in Ikeja subjecting their buildings to the test.
He also revealed that the Agency, in 2019, also carried out a similar exercise on government buildings within the old and new secretariat complexes at Alausa and Oba Akinjobi respectively, asserting that all the buildings passed the Integrity Test and were, therefore, declared structurally fit.
He maintained that Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory is well equipped to carry out various quality assurance tests including soil, water, concrete, non-destructive, Geoscience etc.
Afolabi, while listing schools from all divisions in the state to benefit from the exercise, said it would also be extended to private schools.
”Government is starting with a target of 50 schools in Ikeja alone,” adding that the initiative would be extended to all the five divisions in the state.
“The non-destructive test we are conducting is diagnostic in nature and will reveal structural defects, if any, in the school buildings. The report of our findings will be forwarded to Mr governor for necessary action.
While advising residents to subject their buildings to requisite tests, the General Manager maintained that the process will go a long way in reducing the loss of lives and property resulting from building and civil engineering infrastructure defects.
“This exercise also positions the state government as a model in the post-construction audit culture and I, therefore, urge all the stakeholders in the built environment to emulate this to ensure safety,” he said.
The chairlady of the event, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo, the Commissioner for Education, who was represented by Mrs. Bosede Adelaja, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Education commended the State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the initiative.
Adelaja said that the governor had demonstrated that he was a caring father to authorise testing of schools as part of his zero-tolerance for building collapse in the state.
“I know it is going to cost the state government a lot of money to get these tests done. This is another giant stride for us in education,” she said.
She thanked the general manager for reducing the levies for private schools to ensure they get their buildings tested for the overall good of children and Lagos residents.
Also, Mr Olujimi Hotonu, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry Infrastructure of Works and Infrastructure, said that the state placed high premium on quality control and assurance of roads and buildings in the state.
Hotonu said that the ministry would not hesitate to take action to ensure rehabilitation or demolition of defective buildings, depending on the state of the facilities, to ensure safety.
He said that the tests would be extended to other private and public buildings across the state to reduce incidence of building collapse.
The National President Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Mr Kunle Awobodu, called for urgent action against some buildings found to be defective during a previous exercise some years ago.
Awobodu, the immediate past President of the Building Collapse Prevention Guild, said that several buildings that failed structural integrity tests on the Lagos Island were still standing.
He said that NIOB was committed to prevention of building collapse in the nation and would join in monitoring the tests of schools.
The Executive Chairman, Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (LASUBEB), Mr Wahab Alawiye-King, also commended the governor for the exercise, aimed at providing a conducive environment for learning.
Also, Permanent Secretaries of all the education districts in the state present at the event took turns to share their thoughts on the exercise.