THREE people have been pronounced dead, while five were rescued alive during the search-and-rescue operations ongoing at the collapsed building site on Lagos Island.
The collapse occurred at 4, Alayaki Lane, Freeman, Lagos Island, after the heavy downpour of Saturday, May 21, 2022.
The Director-General of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyitolu, said at a media briefing on Sunday, May 22, 2022, that the building, and even the one next to it, had both been previously marked for testing and, subsequently, demolition.
Oke-Osanyintolu added that the agency faced some challenges in accessing the site on time for rescue job due to the narrow nature of the street.
He said, “We got a distress call that a four-storey building under construction collapsed. This building had been captured by our building controlling agency and it was marked that there should be no further development on it.
“But the undesirable elements continued and from the information that was gathered, we discovered that they were involved in the development of the building at night and during the weekend.
“We were able to rescue five persons alive and recovered three bodies. We encountered some challenges while coming in here with our heavy-duty equipment. The way was narrow, we had to bulldoze our way to ensure we got to the place.”
Some of the residents on the street alleged that money could have changed hands between the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) and developers as the building was initially sealed before the collapse. Some of the residents explained that the developer constructed the building very quickly in the dead of the night and even on weekends.
A resident on the street, Kayode Funso-Kas, explained to our correspondent, “It is a three-storey building. The third floor was nearing completion. There was a quick response from LASEMA, Fire Brigade and the Red Cross when the building collapsed, though excavation came later.
“They worked till the early hours of the morning. The building was of poor quality. Even from the sands, the quality was very compromised and it was a fast construction. They wanted to get the building done quickly and they worked in the night to make it happen.
“It was sealed and later unsealed; there appeared to be a compromise at the level of the government officials. They labourers at night and on weekends. Someone confided in me that the approval was for a two-storey building but they corrupted the system to put an extra floor with sub-standard materials.”
Another resident, Adeola Oloruntoyin, said the authorities were not being honest on the sealed building as people still worked there before it collapsed.
Oloruntoyin queried, “If they sealed it, can it be broken into? Can they break into a building that has been sealed? They are not telling the truth.”
Pandemonium as LASBCA attempts to demolish building
An uproar ensued when the LASBCA attempted to demolish the next building on number 5, Alayaki street. According to the agency’s General Manager, Gbolahan Oki, the building was also marked for demolition and it needed to come down.
Residents of the building, however, protested the planned demolition, begging for more time to evacuate their properties. The building was already affected after the one beside it collapsed on Saturday.
Oki said, “When the machine came yesterday, they could not enter. You know if they took down the whole building here, more persons could have died. Did the government tell this family to build a structure very close? Is the government responsible for this kind of building? You, the families, divided a plot into seven parts and built properties. Most of the houses here are under septic tanks; by the time they collapse, the foundation would come down. We should stop using our monies to buy what would kill us.”
He vowed that the building on number 5, Alayaki street would be brought down on Thursday, this week.
Oke-Osanyitolu was emphatic that LASEMA would not stop performing its duties and warned developers to do the right thing when constructing buildings.
This latest building collapse came 20 days after a three-storey building collapsed in Ebute Meta on May 1, 2022.
Ten people died in that incident.
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