HOURS after the collapse of a 21-storey building in Ikoyi, Lagos, new evidence from a letter circulating on social media suggests that the disaster could have been averted.
The letter reveals that the Nigerian-owned engineering firm, Prowess Engineering Limited, which was handling the project, withdrew its structural consultancy service in February 2020 after certifying the structure as unsafe and vulnerable to collapse.
This was conveyed by the Managing Director of the engineering firm Muritala Olawale to the owner of Gerrard Terraces, the high-rise building currently in ruins.
“We arrived at this decision due to the fact that 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,” he said.
The firm’s own analysis of the 21- storey building project was that the owner of the project, Olufemi Osibona, failed to provide concrete cube tests for each stage of the building.
The building was part of three towers being built by private developer Fourscore Homes.
In an interview, Osibona said his company promised to offer “a stress-free lifestyle, complete with a hotel flair.”
Some of its units sold for $1.2 million at that time.
Executive Director of Prowess Engineering Abimbola Ahmed, who spoke with The ICIR, confirmed the authenticity of the letter but declined to speak further on the issue.
“The letter is authentic and we want to restrict the information on the building to that letter because it is quite early to become very chatty about that project but as the days go by, we will speak about it when necessary,” he said.
About 50 people are feared trapped in an uncompleted building that collapsed around 3 pm on Monday, at 20 Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, according to a CNN report.
Hours after the collapse, hundreds of people were seen around the site, helplessly digging through the wreckage by hand to remove slabs of concrete in a heap.
Olufemi Adegoke Osibona is a real estate developer and the managing director of Fourscore Heights Limited, the firm in charge of the collapsed 21-storey Gerrard Terraces in Ikoyi.
He is the first African to develop a seven-storey building in the United Kingdom. The property called Fourscore Mansion is located at 113, Albion Drive London Fields, E8, 4LZ, East London.
Building standards are often being criticised in Lagos State, but the authorities recently launched a new scheme to improve certification.
In September 2014, 116 people died when a six-storey building collapsed in Lagos during service by a deceased celebrity televangelist, Temitope Joshua, popularly known as Prophet T.B Joshua.
In 2019, the collapse of two separate buildings, including one housing a school, also left dozens of people dead in Lagos.