THE Director-General (DG) of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyitolu, has revealed that the three-storey building that collapsed in Ebute meta had once been sealed by state government officials.
The ICIR had earlier today reported that the building, located at 32, Ibadan Street (East), Ebute-meta, in the Lagos Mainland Local Government area of Lagos State collapsed about 9:48pm, on Sunday, May 1, 2022.
In a briefing with pressmen today, Oke-Osanyitolu said that the building had received an early warning regarding its status. He descibed the building as a distressed structure.
He said, “By 10:56pm yesterday, we were informed that a three-storey building collapsed. There are things that you need to understand: this is a distressed building, this is a building that has been sealed up by government officials; this is a building that early warning had been given on concerning its status. Inasmuch as we symapthise with those that lost their beloved ones, we need to state it clearly that we will not tolerate this kind of man-made disaster.”
The LASEMA boss added that when the incident occurred, the agency activated its emergency response plan, led by the Honourable Commissioner for Special Duties, Engineer Paul Ayo Bamgbose, with all key stakeholders on ground.
Oke-Osanyitolu confirmed that eight people had been reported dead so far, with 22 rescued.
He appreciated the efforts of other stakeholders like the Lagos State Fire Service, the ambulance services, Federal Fire Service, Lagos State Ambulance Service (LASAMBUS) and officials of the LASEMA, which is the coordinating agency.
He said, “With these key stakeholders, we were able to rescue 22 people alive; two were severely injured and transferred to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) for further treatment. The majority of those people that were rescued were males. We had 21 males and one female. We recovered eight bodies that were initially taken to the mortuary. Out of the eight bodies, seven have been given to their relatives.”
Residents who spoke to The ICIR admitted that the building had, indeed, been showing signs of collapse. They also admitted that the developer had given residents of the building a quit notice to vacate the premises by June.
A resident, Joshua Olawepo, who lost a friend in the incident, told The ICIR that the incident happened about 10pm and the impact was like an earthquake.
Olawepo said, “The house is not okay. It is a patched house. They gave them a quit notice till this year June. I lost one of my friends there. Khalid is dead now, he died in the collapse. It was yesterday, about 10pm. I just talked to my friends and he went inside while I left. I had got to the Cemetary street/Ibadan street junction when I heard a sound like an earthquake. I came back, looking for Khalid and Farouk, who was his elder brother. Khalid is dead but Farouk is alive in the hospital now. It is so painful.”
Afolayan Temitope noted that there was a moment she came back from work and the staircase collapsed and she began considering leaving the building.
She alleged that the developer deceived her, with her sister, into taking the residence and she was attempting to recover her money before leaving.
Temitope said, “I came back from work one day to meet the staircase already collapsed. The next day when I came back from work, they had to patch it again. I was telling my sister that we should move. They duped us that is why we are still here. If they didn’t dupe us we would not be here.”
She noted that the fact that they had issues dealing with property developers and the expensive rate of housing in Lagos kept her and her sister in that ill-fated building and she was only lucky to get out alive.
“From April, May, we have been thinking of getting our money back. Houses are really expensive. A room and parlour that we saw at Surulere, cost almost one million naira. I thank God I am a survivor. Some people are still under the rubble,” she said.
Oke-Osanyitolu urged residents in the state to stay calm, saying LASEMA was on top of the situation. He also urged them to stop spreading fake news about the figures and confirm from the emergency unit and the state commissioner for information.
“Any data not from these sources is false. Secondly, I need to emphasize that people should allow us to work. A situation where people are throwing stones at emergency responders is highly unacceptable. We had to beef up our security to be able to control the crowd. The emergency was swift, prompt, effective and efficient. We have been working since yesterday till date and we have got to ground zero with our sophisticated equipment,” he added.
Three months ago, a building similarly collapsed at No. 16, Akanbi Crescent, off Adesina Street, off Harvey Road, Sabo, in the Yaba area of Lagos, trapping five persons.
All the persons were pronounced dead, as the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Idris Salako, revealed that the developer recommenced construction without official authorisation.
This was done despite the building being sealed on two occasions.
Last November, a 21-storey building also collapsed in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Prior to the ill-fated event, a letter revealed that the Nigerian-owned engineering firm, Prowess Engineering Limited, handling the project had withdrawn its structural consultancy service in February 2020 after certifying the structure as unsafe and vulnerable to collapse.
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