State Government To Blame For Akwa Ibom Church Building Collapse

 


The Akwa Ibom State government has been blamed for the church building collapse that occurred in the state in December 2016.

Head of the Town Planning Department, of the Uyo City Capital Development Authority, UCCDA, Effiong Akpan, made this known during a hearing into the cause of the incident that claimed 26 lives.

Akpan disclosed that the collapsed building belonging to Reigners Bible Church, Uyo, had been severally marked for demolition but that the state government refused to make funds available for the demolition to be carried out.

“We marked ‘X’ on the structure on March 6, 2013; it was covered by paint; we did the same on July 16, 2014; March 1, 2016; July 20, 2016, and Aug 16, 2016,” he said.

“The developer ignored all the markings by covering them with paint.”

Akpan told the commission of inquiry that his office later issued a 21-day ultimatum to remove the property “failing which the authority will remove the structure and cost born by the developer.”

He explained that the developer had used heavy pillars for the construction and his office did not have the capacity to remove the heavy pillars and roofing used for the construction.

“We needed cranes, excavators, bulldozers, money, security coverage and vehicles to carry out the demolition.

“On May 4, 2015, we requested for funds and security coverage for the demolition; the money was approved by His Excellency but we never access the money.

“The then Accountant-General did not release the money for us to embark on the demolition,” Akpan said.

According to him, the UCCDA had once demolished the church structure at foundation level and warned the developer to desist from erecting any structure on the site.

He explained that the land and the entire area where the church was built had since 2002 been mapped out by the government as conservation area as it lies on the hilly side of Uyo ravine which is prone to landslide.

Akpan said that all the churches and event centres built along that axis of the road were illegal, since the soil could not hold any structure.

He said that the UCCDA needed back up from security agencies to embark on the demolition because its employees had been molested and harassed when they first tried to demolish the building.

He also said that the owners of the Church threatened to liaise with the government to dismiss any of the authority’s employees who made attempt to embarrass workers on the church site.

Ini Ekpo, counsel to the founder of church, said that if the claim by the UCCDA boss was true,  then the state government should be held responsible for the collapse.






     

     

    He said: “UCCDA gave the developer of Reigners’ Bible Church 21 days to demolish the building, but after 21 days, government did not facilitate the demolition.

    “UCCDA has clearly said if it had the money, the building would have been demolished and lives would have been saved.

    “Since the government did not provide the funds to facilitate the demolition, if negligence is found anywhere, then government will not go scot-free.”

    The hearing was adjourned to January 9.

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