Collapsed Synagogue building not consistent with structural failure – Expert

Collapsed Synagogue

A Professor of Building and Structural Engineering, Prof Patrick Nwankwo, continued with his evidence before Lagos High Court at the weekend where he said that “the mode of collapse of the Synagogue church guest house was inconsistent with the mode of any building with structural failure anywhere in the world”.

Akinbela Fatiregun, Oladele Ogundeji and their companies, Hardrock Constructiob and Engineeting Company and Jandy Trust Ltd alongside the trustees of the church are being tried on 111-count of charge of negligence and criminal manslaughter.

More than 100 persons died when the church’s seven-story guest house collapsed on September 12, 2014. 85 of the deceased were South Africans.

Led in evidence by the defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo, Prof Nwankwo told the trial judge, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo that “for a building with structural failure, the mode of collapse should be gradual, it cannot be catastrophic or simultaneous because of the processes of hinges formation and the occupants will sufficiently notice cracks and deflections to enable them move out before it collapses;

It is therefore not possible for it to collapse like a park of cards as seen in the case of Synagogue”.

He further said on the collapsed guest house from his scientific investigations that: “the synagogue guest house with rigid frame structures, which had been completed over a year, the whole twelve frames could not have collapsed in the mode in which it happened, it would have been partial and never catastrophic as it seen”.


Synagogue’s building collapse trial continues today

Nwankwo, who is the eighth defence witness in the on going trials of the contractors and supervisors of the collapsed building which claimed over a hundred lives on September 12, 2014 said he carried out an independent and thorough investigation on the collapsed guest house of the church in order to get to the root of the cause.

Giving evidence further, Prof Nwankwo said he carried out structural analysis using Orion Design Software modeling on the Beams, Columns, Foundation, Anchorage, Expansion joints, Rigid zones and Mechanism vis-a-vis the internationally accepted Codes of practice for engineering which is British Standard BS which all professionals in the field of engineering use guiding principles to arrive at his conclusions.

He further demonstrated his findings clinically with power points and with standard codes for every aspect of civil and structures.

On Beams and Columns, he said: “the issue of slenderness was immaterial. There was no any under-reinforcement as the main beams, edge beams and columns were adequate and correct and as such couldn’t have been responsible for the collapse in any way”.

On the foundation and achorage of the collapsed building,  Nwankwo stated that: “the foundation made of pad type as recommended by the geo technical analysis on the soil remained intact without punching, deflection or tilting while the anchorage which was fixity type was adequate and sufficient for the building and couldn’t have been responsible in any way for the collapse”.

On the Rigid zones and Expansion joints, the professor said: “the building was adequately provided with rigid zones with the two staircases, infilled blockwalls and rigid frames while the expansion joint was unnecessary because expansion joint is a function of temperature and the temperatures in Lagos adequately accommodate the collapsed guest house and therefore could not have anything to do with the collapsed building of the church”.

On the controversial mechanism alleged to have occurred in the building by the prosecution, Nwankwo who had carried out different investigations on troubled structures and handled many highrise buildings across the globe stated that mechanism did not occur on the building.

His words: “before mechanism occurs, there should be elasticity, yielding and plasticity of the elements and this was never the case in the collapsed Synagogue guest house. Otherwise all tests carried out on the elements could not have retained their original strength which can never happen once there is mechanism. Therefore investigations clearly showed that the collapsed building was never structurally deficient in any way”.

Justice Lawal-Akapo adjourned the hearing to December 13, 19 and 20 for continuation.


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