Victims of building collapse in the country may soon start benefiting from insurance payments.
This is because a bill seeking to ensure compulsory insurance of buildings and buildings under construction scaled second reading in the Senate yesterday.
The Insurance Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021, was sponsored by Senator Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun Central).
If passed and assented into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, the bill would make it mandatory for victims of building collapse to be compensated by insurance companies.
Amosun, while leading debate on the bill noted that building collapse is now rampant across the country with the attendant loss of lives and valuables.
“The need for the amendment of this Bill was necessitated by the prevalence of collapsed buildings in many Nigerian cities which has led to unquantifiable loss of lives and property as well as permanent disability.
“There has been an increase in the cases of collapsed buildings in the country, most especially in the last 10 years,” he said.
The senator recalled the collapse of a three-Storey residential/school building on Massey Street, Ita Faaji area of Lagos Island on March 2019, with the loss of 20 lives with 43 injured.
There was also the collapse of a building under construction located at Onitsha, Anambra State, which left no fewer than six persons dead.
He also recounted the Lekki building collapse which occurred in 2016, resulting in the killing of no fewer than 34 persons and injuring several others and a six-storey guest house belonging to a church in the Ikotun area of Lagos State in September 2014, trapping about 300 people out of which over 100 lost their lives.
“These cases and several others, too numerous to mention, are considered as some of the worst incidences of collapsed building in Nigeria, in recent times.
“The need to checkmate the rising cases prompted the urgent need to amend the insurance Act.
“Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, this bill is proposed to ensure compliance with the compulsory insurance of public buildings and buildings under construction by relevant stakeholders in Nigeria, thereby addressing the limitations of the current law particularly in respect of inadequate penalty against any persons, group of persons or entity liable for building collapse and non-existing provision on the minimum sum to be insured for a building under construction.
“The bill seeks in a nutshell to address the following: Provide security as a remedy for victims of collapsed buildings; fill the gap in the failure to provide for limit of liability in respect of third party liability in compulsory insurance of public buildings under construction; provide adequate penalty provisions in line with current socio-economic realities for contravention of the law; and restore the glory of the insurance industry which is characterized by gaps in addressing the multiple risks in the construction industry,” Amosun said.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the bill after it scaled second reading to the Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions for further legislative work.
The Committee which is chaired by Senator Uba Sani (APC, Kaduna Central) is expected to report back in four (4) weeks.