The minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), on Monday revealed why Nigerians have experienced environmental disasters in recent time.
Fashola spoke in Abuja during the celebration of International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction with the theme: Build To Last.
According to him, risks could be avoided if people have respect for nature and other environmental issues.
The minister, who was represented by the ministry’s Director of Construction, Mosunmade Odusanya noted that with adequate commitment, dedications and constant awareness, disasters can be prevented and minimised, whenever they occur.
He also advised that more attention should be given to the speed at which rescue missions are carried out when disaster occurs.
On measures to consider reducing disaster in the country, Fashola said: “Priority should be given for the consideration of planning, environmental issues, structural design, construction and other building components that can stand the test of time, occasioned by the unforeseen disaster.
“At the pre-design, design, construction and post-construction stages, the provisions in the National Building Code, Fire Code and other environmental prescriptions should be adequately considered.
“Spaces for human habitation, workspaces, setbacks, access roads, fire prevention and firefighting equipment; ecological, geophysical thermal consideration, should take the prime of place.
“Also, hazardous spaces, such as filling stations, chemical factories, bunkers and shelters, should also be given attention at the design stage of the development. Consideration should also be given to evacuation of people and goods.”
Meanwhile, the Director-General of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mustapha Maihaja, had said about $665 billion had been lost in the last three years to disasters across the world.
Maihaja, who was represented by the agency’s Director of Finance and Account, Mr. Sunday Hamman, disclosed that risk could be well reduced if people imbibe the culture of incorporating disaster risk reduction into investment decisions.
He said: “According to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, there are about $665 billion direct economic losses in the past three years. A considerable proportion of those losses comes from infrastructure failures in high-income countries.
“The theme has captured the essence why we must work towards integrating disaster risk reduction into investment decisions which is the most cost-effective way to reduce risk.”
On the importance of risk reduction, Maihaja said: “Weak implementation and enforcement mechanisms are common problems in countries where most urban development is informal. As such, when critical infrastructure fails, businesses experience indirect losses, as production, distribution and supply chains are interrupted.
“The recurring disasters and their impacts on our people and the environment must serve as a wakeup call to all stakeholders, government at all levels as well as individuals; the organised private sector (OPS) must rise up to their responsibilities on disaster risk reduction.
“Disaster risk reduction is everybody’s business. Therefore, the need to re-strategise and foster stronger collaboration on principled and effective disaster management remains paramount. Despite the competing demands for resources, we must work together to improve the lives of vulnerable citizens as well as enhance their resilience.”
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