Preventing Incidents of the Collapse of Buildings by Implementing Lessons Learned


By O. Chima Okereke, PhD

Herefordshire, UK

  1. Introduction

Incidents of the collapse of buildings occur every year from time to time with the associated losses of lives, properties and resources in both developing and developed countries. However, by a wide margin, the incidents are more frequent in developing nations.  We have chosen to focus on Nigeria, and also Bangladesh and India where the incidents were quite high in the past year. Such catastrophic losses represent disasters and wastes that should not have occurred. Television and other media outlets broadcast and publish reports of the disasters, and some discuss their probable causes. Apart from efforts to help survivors and to provide some accommodation to rehouse them, it is doubtful how we educate ourselves and learn from such incidents in order to prevent reoccurrence.

It appears that generally, in both developed and developing economies, we rarely apply and implement lessons learned from past incidents. This explains why the same mistakes and failures continue to reoccur. It is a recommended practice in project management that at the end of a project, the project team should discuss and record the lessons learned from it, whether positive or negative. However, it has been the case that in many organisations, these lessons are faithfully recorded, then put away and never implemented to effect changes that should stop or minimise the chances of repetition of the same failures.

In this article, we intend to explore this subject as we do the following:

  • Make suggestions for the implementation of lessons learned.
  • Briefly review some recorded incidents of collapsed buildings including their causes and some of the proffered solutions.
  • Discuss generally the causes and solutions recommended and adopted in various cities affected by the collapse of buildings.
  • Present concluding remarks which are high points of the recommendations on implementation.

As we discuss causes and solutions to incidents in some large cities in Nigeria, we have also considered incidents of collapse of buildings in Bangladesh and India despite the fact that our readership is mostly based in the UK and Africa. The reason is that we can learn from experiences of how the problems are solved internally within the country, and also how they are resolved internationally by countries with similar problems. The common thread on this subject in Nigeria, India, and Bangladesh is that we are saddled with a problem caused mostly by unsafe buildings put up illegally. Some of the houses have been built in high population growth area, some are illegal conversions of one-storey building to three or four-storey, and some are old and unmaintained buildings. Benchmarking allows us to copy and apply what has worked for various cities and nations to the solution of our similar problems. If we find such important information, we should use it to avoid “reinventing the wheel” by seeking our own solutions with the associated losses in resources and lives as the problem lingers on.


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About the Author

flag-uko-chima-okereke-bioO. Chima Okereke, PhD, PMP 

Herefordshire, UK

Dr. O. Chima Okereke, Ph.D., MBA, PMP is the Managing Director and CEO of Total Technology Consultants, Ltd., a project management consulting company working in West Africa and the UK.  He is a multidisciplinary project management professional, with over 25 years’ experience in in oil and gas, steel and power generation industries. Before embarking on a career in consulting, he worked for thirteen years in industry rising to the position of a chief engineer with specialisation in industrial controls and instrumentation, electronics, electrical engineering and automation. During those 13 years, he worked on every aspect of projects of new industrial plants including design, construction and installation, commissioning, and engineering operation and maintenance in process industries.  Chima sponsored and founded the potential chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, acting as president from 2004 to 2010.  Dr. Okereke has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Lagos, and a PhD and Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Bradford in the UK.  He also has a PMP® certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI®).  He has been a registered engineer with COREN in Nigeria since 1983.  For many years, Total Technology was a partner for Oracle Primavera Global Business Unit, a representative in Nigeria of Oracle University for training in Primavera project management courses, and a Gold Level member of Oracle Partner Network (OPN). In the UK, the company is also a member of the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce. More information can be found at http://www.totaltechnologyconsultants.org/.

As a certified project management consultant, Chima has a flair for consulting, teaching, writing, conducting research and publishing professional articles. Between October 2002 and November 2013, Total Technology Consultants trained over 350 project practitioners in Oracle Primavera project management courses. Two recent assignments include: (1) working as a visiting professor; teaching a class on a Master’s degree programme in Project Management in the Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok, Russia. The programme consisted of Strategic Project Management, Financial Management, Risk Management, Quality Management and conducting seminars and lectures on current developments and topical issues on international education on project management; and (2) In August and September 2013, he conducted a ground-breaking, personally developed training programme for seventy six well engineers of Shell Nigeria to projectise and enhance the efficiency of their operations.

Chima is the publisher of Project Management Business Digest, a blog aimed at helping organizations use project management for business success.  Dr. Okereke is also an international advisor for PM World.  He can be contacted at [email protected] or [email protected].

Website: http://www.totaltechnologyconsultants.com

Phone numbers: +441432851899, +447802718845

To see other works by Dr. Okereke, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/dr-o-chima-okereke/