Stemming the tide of frequent building collapses

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The building collapse that occurred on the Lagos Island,Lagos two weeks ago has, once again, opened the vista for governments at alllevels to put safety on its front burner. TEMITOPE MUSOWO writes.

It was not as if last week Wednesday building collapse atIta-Faaji area of Lagos state was the first in the country in recent times.What is important, however, is that one would have thought the dust wouldsettle on such an unfortunate incident which claimed over 20 lives of schoolchildren since similar incidents had occurred in the past. While the nation wasstill mourning the loss of these lives in Lagos, a similar tragedy struckagain, this time around, in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital where another three-storeybuilding collapsed. This was last week Friday. However, unlike Lagos, rescueteam were late in arriving at the scene of the Ibadan collapse due toinexplicable reasons.

Sources made available to Blueprint disclosed that a fewdays after the Lagos incident, another building collapsed at 57, EgertonSquare, Oke- Arin on Lagos Island even although it was later denied by theauthorities of Lagos state government.

Although, residents of the street said the denial was notunconnected with the fact that the collapse had to do with activities of theLagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) that engaged unprofessional peoplein pulling down one of the buildings marked for demolition before the buildingcame down on the residents.

The Massey Street, Ita-Faaji building collapse on LagosIsland was one disaster too many, with scores of schoolchildren involved eitheras causalities or survivors.

This incident left people with so many questions as to therole of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development who aresupposed to regulate building construction and usage?

How could such a building be used for school and the stateministry of education charged with responsibility of regulating schoolstandard, looked the other way? asked a parent, Mrs Joke Sanya.

Continuing further, she said, Why would the officials LagosState Building Control Agency leave a house that has been marked for demolitionfor over a year until it claimed over 20 lives?

Who are the developers who put peoples live to this kind ofrisk because of their own selfish gain?

Investigation shows that some persons put the blame on theparents who saw the distressed building where the school is located and stilltook their children to there. Many say it is because of the school fees chargedbut beyond that and the blame game, when will the government be alive to itsresponsibility of ensuring that buildings are constructed according tostandard?

Similar incidents in the past

Lagos, had in recent times, been visited with one disasterafter another. For instance, it was on June 20, 2018 that a truck loaded withboards and plywood tilted on the Ojuelegba Bridge in Surulere, Lagos wherethree persons: a commercial bus driver, his conductor and a passenger losttheir lives in the incident.

Similar accidents had claimed lives in the last four yearsin Lagos. In one of the incidents in September 2015, in which three members ofthe same family died, the relations filed a N10 billion compensation suit atthe Lagos High Court.

Still fresh in our memory was the Otedola Link Bridge tankerfire disaster of June 28 last year that left over 12 people died and manyvehicles burnt.

Again, on January 31 2019, another explosion caused byspillage from a petrol-laden tanker at the Barrack Bus Stop on theLagos-Badagry Expressway, Ojo area of Lagos, resulted in death of two personsand destruction of property worth millions.

It was gathered that the 33,000-litre capacity tanker fellat a bad portion of the road and spilled its content.

After what people wished should not be a temporary holidayfrom tanker-related fire incident, containers falling off articulated lorries,and so on, it has come to a season of building collapses in a modern city suchas Lagos, said Pa Adebamiji Lateef, a 60-year-old plywood seller in Amukoko.

Investigative panel set up

Expectedly, the state government has taken a fresh actionregarding the building collapse at the Lagos Island.

It has set up a five-man panel to investigate the uglyoccurrence, according to the state commissioner for physical planning and urbandevelopment, Rotimi Ogunleye, who inaugurated a panel to investigate theimmediate and remote causes of the incident last week Tuesday.

Ogunleye said the terms of reference of the panel included profferingremedial measures to stem further building collapse in the future, as well asdetermining the level of negligence on the part of the developer or owner andthe role of the state government.

The commissioner gave assurance that the recommendationswould be appraised for implementation by the state government to stem the tideof such occurrences in future.

After the panel submits its report, we are waiting to seeif it will not end there as usual, said Pa Lateef who said the people aretired of endless panels without action.

After the Ita-Faaji incident, Blueprint learnt that theLagos State Building Control Agency began a demolition exercise on about 180houses already marked for demolition across Lagos metropolis. This is accordingto the general manager of LASBCA, Mr Lekan Shodehinde.

Shodehinde, who was represented by the agencys secretary,Mr Tayo Fakolujo, during the demolition exercise, said the building would bedestroyed in phases.

According to him, about 30 houses had already been demolishedon the island in the last one year, while 150 had been marked for demolition.

We are doing this so that no more lives will be lost inLagos.

For others that are still occupied, we are going to evictthe occupants to avoid disaster because their lives are more important to us,he said.

It is hoped that these incidents have taught governments atvarious levels a lesson about doing the right thing at the right time.

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