DMGS building collapse: We need detailed, difficult, technical assessment to determine cause – Consultant

Chinedum Treasure

The Anambra State Panel on the collapsed Centenary Building of the Dennis Memorial Grammar School (DMGS), Onitsha on Wednesday commenced hearing over the incident.

During the proceeding, four key persons involved in the construction of the building were called to testify before the panel.

Addressing the Panel, Consultant Structural Engineer, Engr Dr Chris Oyeka,
said that a detailed, difficult, technical assessment with a clear plan would be required to determine the cause of the collapse.

He described the incident as aberation, informing the panel that he was, himself, professionally inquisitive to know the actual cause of the collapse.

While testifying on the approval documents, Oyeka confirmed that he was a member of the DMGS Centenary team that submitted the approval application at the Anambra State Physical Planning Board (ANSPPB).

On the comment that the approval document was labelled “provisional approval”, the consultant said that, that had been a longstanding and verifiable custom and practice of the planning approval bodies, and consequently invited the panel to contact the Anambra State Physical Planning Board (ANSPPB) on the issue.

He professionally explained issues raised by the panel on Expansion Joint and Base Size of the Columns.

On questions concerning the supervision of the construction, Onyeka confirmed that he usually visited the site twice a week and in the course, carried out regular inspections with Engr Nweke whose professional competence he said he respected.

Oyeka is said to be widely acknowledged in the building industry as one of the foremost structural engineers in Nigeria, having held academic positions at both the University of Benin and Igbinedion University and currently holding an expansive portfolio of consultancy projects.

He presented his curriculum vitae to the panel for the confirmation of his professional bona fides and his status as a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and a COREN registered engineer in current and good standing.

The Contractor, Engr Chinedu Ibeabuchi, the Director of Optimum Works Ltd, the second person questioned, explained to the panel that he was both a registered engineer with COREN and a registered builder.

He also testified that he had worked professionally and effectively with the technical team and had always cross checked details with Engr Nweke, the supervising engineer, saying that he had always implemented with scrupulous diligence the engineering and architectural drawings.

Also speaking, Engr Davidson Nweke, former Chairman of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Onitsha Chapter provided detailed professional answers to all the technical questions put to him by the panel.

Nweke, a retired seasoned engineer who had worked for the State Government, however confirmed he had not yet renewed his COREN registration.

Project Architect, Arc Chidubem Olisa (BSc, MSc), while explaining his drawings and on the issue of the placement of columns, said the architect positioned the columns and the structural engineer had the authority on the size of the columns.

Chairman of the panel, Engr Sir Victor Meju
who is also Chairman, Anambra State Chapter of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), while adjourning the proceeding for the day, thanked all for coming and told the technical team that they would be re-invited if needed.

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