Worried by losses resulting from collapsed buildings, damage by fire and other natural disasters, the nation’s insurance industry have called on the government to enforce the law on insurance of building to reduce waste of lives and assets as the recent Lekki building collapse in Lagos State.
The risk managers said that those who are vested with the power to enforce the laws of the land owe it a duty to ensure that laws are respected and obeyed.
According to the enactment of Sections 64 and 65 of the 2003 Insurance Act for the compulsory insurance of public buildings and buildings under construction against the hazards of collapsed buildings, damage by fire and other natural disasters like storm, flood, earthquake, as well as arson and other losses related to the incidence of fire.
The Act defines public buildings as including – tenement house, hostel, building occupied by a tenant, lodger or license building where the public have ingress and aggress for the purpose of obtaining educational or medical services or recreation or transaction of business. This would include eateries, restaurants, internet cafes, shopping malls, etc.
According to insurers, losses resulting from collapsed buildings whether at the stage of construction or occupation bring physical sorrows, tears and pains resulting from outright loss of property and valuables because they are not insured against the probability of the risk occurring.
The underwriting managers believe that failure of most buildings in major cities in the country to stand the test of time has been attributed to sub-standard works at various stages of construction.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA), Sunday Thomas, sympathizing with the families of those who lost their lives in the collapse five storey building in Lekki, Lagos State, said the association notes with regret the loss of lives and valuable property as a result of building collapse in different parts of the country. We are however quick to note that the heavy financial burden placed on their dependants and loved ones would have been mitigated if the contractors had done the needful.
According to him, all over the world insurance is a risk mitigating mechanism designed to bring succor to those who suffer loss, their relations and /or property.
The NIA boss said “As a nation, we should learn to place premium on human lives by doing the needful. This is where the insurance companies can be called to action. Insurance Act 2003 in its Section 64(1) states that no person shall cause to be constructed any building of more than two floors without insuring with a registered insurer his liability in respect of construction risks caused by his negligence or the negligence of his servants, agents or consultants which may result in bodily injury or loss of life to or damage to property of any workman on the site or of any member of the public.”