It was a black Monday in Lagos when a 21-storey building under construction collapsed killing many people while others were still trapped as of the time of filing this report.
The multipurpose building is located on Gerald Road in the highbrow Ikoyi area of the state.
- COVID-19: How to tackle mental health challenges among Nigerian youth – Experts
- Case of illegal withdrawal from deceased’s bank account for Dec 9
While the casualty number is yet to be ascertained as the emergency operation continued, four dead bodies have been removed from the debris as of last nigh while four were rescued alive.
Sources said over 50 people were said to be trapped as emergency officials continued to comb the rubble.
While the state has recorded a few incidents of collapsed buildings in recent times, yesterday’s incident was probably the most serious involving a 21-storey building being constructed for residential and commercial purposes.
It was learnt that the building collapsed around 3 pm with a loud bang in the vicinity. The owner of the building was said to be in the building when the structure collapsed.
Sources said the owner drove to the construction site around noon in his bulletproof jeep and was supervising the project along with the project manager when the incident occurred.
Victims call for help
A security guard in the adjourning house told our correspondent that echoes from some of the trapped victims calling for help were heard when they arrived at the scene minutes after the incident occurred.
The security man, who identified himself as Ibrahim Kabiru, said he heard the phone of one of the trapped victims ringing when he arrived at the scene.
“Some of them called some of their friends and family members to inform them of the unfortunate incident,” he said.
Emergency officials comprising the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), the state fire service, the police, among others were at the site of the collapsed building. Also, the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, was at the scene. It was an emotional atmosphere at the scene as rescuers brought out dead bodies from the rubbles of the collapsed building.
The Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in the South-West region, Ibrahim Farinloye, told our correspondent that four dead bodies have been brought while four others were rescued alive.
He said the emergency units of the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Air Force have been called to help in the rescue operation.
He said the air force would assist aerially while the army would help from the ground.
“We are deploying the Disaster Response Unit of the Nigeria Army and Air Force to assist in the rescue operation. As at 5 pm yesterday, four persons were rescued alive and four dead bodies recovered,” he said.
It was observed that there are three of such high rise buildings on the same landed property before one collapsed on Monday.
Structural engineers resigned before the collapse
As early as February 20, 2020, the project consultants and civil engineering company had written to the developer- Mr Femi Osibona of Fourscore Heights Limited, to formally inform him of the withdrawal of their structural consultancy service from the ill-fated project.
Managing Director Prowess Engineering Limited, Muritala Olawale, said in a letter sent to the developer:
“We arrived at this decision because we no longer share the same vision with you as our client in terms of how the project is being executed.
“We can guarantee the integrity of the first two buildings and also works done up to the fourth floor of the third building supervised by us provided specifications have been met in terms of the required concrete strength. This we do not have control over as we do not have the concrete cube test results for each stage of the building to date.
“Also, kindly note that we are not taking responsibility for any other construction errors that may have occurred overtime on the project.
“Furthermore, we request that our company’s name and logo be removed from the project board and also kindly notify all necessary approving authorities of our withdrawal from the project,” he said.
There was no immediate response from the developer yesterday as he was reportedly among those trapped when the incident happened.
An official line of the firm dialled by one of our correspondents did not also connect. Osibona, one of our correspondents learnt, is a successful property developer who has been involved in several high rise buildings in Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
Investigations ongoing, says Lagos govt
The Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr Kadri Obafemi Hamzat and other officials inspected the site of the collapsed building on Monday. Hamzat said it was important to cordon off the scene of the incident to facilitate efforts of professional rescuers and limit casualty.
Also in a statement last night, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso called for calm over the collapse.
He said the Rescue Unit (LRU), Lagos State Fire Service and Lagos State Ambulance Services (LASAMBUS) were on the site battling to save the lives of those under the rubble.
“Governor Sanwo-Olu has ordered an investigation into the incident,” he said.
Similarly, President Muhammadu Buhari has condoled with families who have lost loved ones in the 22-storey building collapse in Lagos, while some are still trapped.
The President, in a statement issued Monday by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, urged authorities to step up efforts in rescue operations, while emergency institutions, including hospitals, should provide all the necessary support to safeguard lives of the rescued.
President Buhari, who shared the sad moment with people and Government of Lagos State, prayed for God’s intervention in the ongoing rescue operations.
We must get to the roots of the matter – Ex- NSE chair
Speaking with one of our correspondents, former Chairman of the Nigerian Society of Nigeria (NSE), Akin Akintola said it was important to get to the roots of the collapse since the structural engineer withdrew when the project got to the fourth floor.
“Where was the government when the engineer withdrew because he felt going ahead with the project was unethical? Who allowed the contractor to continue?” he asked.
According to him, government officials must be assigned to buildings of such magnitude to ensure that the specifications were followed.
From Eugene Agha, Abdullateef Aliyu, Bolaji Robert & Christiana Alabi (Lagos)