One of the key materials for building construction and other structure is block. It is significant to the extent that stakeholders who understand the failure of having durable blocks don’t leave any stone unturned in ensuring availability and use of quality blocks. However, in recent times, it seems that prospective homeowners and developers complain about the rising cost of cement and other finishing materials than quality of blocks across the country.
According to builders and structural engineers who spoke with our analyst, there are a number of tests which need to be carried out at the production and finishing stages of block manufacturing before it could be used. Out of these tests, water absorption and compressive strength tests are essential. To the Nigerian Industrial Standards, carrying out compressive strength test requires deployment of a compressive strength testing machine, which is not readily available in most cities and towns where blocks are being produced daily.
With the non-availability of the machine and others, our sources note that having resilient cities and towns would remain elusive in the country if urgent steps are not taken by the concerned stakeholders. Our analyst had earlier analysed the factors and implications of building collapse in Ibadan, Lagos, Kano and other places. From Abuja to Ota and Umuahia, our checks reveal low compressive strength of blocks. The story is not different in Ilorin, Idah, Osogbo, Ilesha, Ibadan, Ogbomosho, Aramoko, and Ado-Ekiti. In Owerri, in addition to low compressive strength, water absorption rate is also at the lowest ebb of the required standard.
Exhibit 1: Average Compressive Strength Test in select States
Over the years, academics have been providing solutions to the non-compliance to the requirements of the NIS and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria. These ranges from having strict compliance monitoring by the concerned regulatory agencies to prosecution of block manufacturers that supplied blocks to homeowners and developers. Manufacturers have also been advised and still being informed of the essence of producing quality blocks. The advice has been mainly hinged on the importance of embracing best practices and processes while making their blocks. For instance, inappropriate mix ratio and method of curing have largely been linked with the poor quality of blocks. Hence, the need for constant upskilling and reskilling of production crew.
Recently, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria noted that manufacturers test all required quality parameters of sandcrete blocks at its laboratory located in Ikeja. According to our analyst, this is laudable and came at a time the stakeholders are clamouring for resilient cities and towns towards sustainable habitation. In addition to this, our analyst expects the agency and others to shift towards deployment of construction analytics, which has been helping prospective homeowners and developers in developed countries to understand the quality of building materials over the years. Using the analytics requires that the agencies collaborate with companies that have the capabilities of creating and sustaining construction analytics architecture and system across the country.