It was another buck passing, yesterday, by Lagos authorities, as rescuers continue the search for missing person(s) in the collapsed seven-storey building at Banana Island, Ikoyi area of Lagos State.
The building, which was one of the four units being developed by Joe Faraday, collapsed when workers were still on site at about 5:00p.m. on Wednesday, April 12, 2023.
Indeed, the Lagos State government has directed that all developments on Banana Island be placed on hold, subject to a comprehensive audit by the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA).
The government also declared that its audit will be extended to other estates and gated communities.
Already, the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, headed by Tayo Bamgbose-Martins, in a face-saving statement, said the collapsed seven-floor building, under construction, was unapproved by the Ministry.
In the statement released by its Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Mukaila Sanusi, there was no fatality, adding that few people, who sustained injuries in the unfortunate incident, which happened while casting was being done, are being treated.
Earlier, the collapse was attributed to a cement mixer truck, which drove into the building columns, while a head count carried out by the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the construction site, Anthony Onah, showed an adult male is unaccounted for and his whereabouts is still unknown.
Officials of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), who were on the site less than an hour after the building collapsed, said they have approached ground level.
Although LASEMA claims that only one person was missing in the incident, some of the construction workers insist that an engineer, and a 30-year-old man lost their lives, and others were yet to be found.
It was another sorry tale as the Management of Banana Island Property Owners and Residents Association, Lagos (BIPORAL) prevented newsmen from accessing the collapsed building site.
The newsmen arrived at the gate of the estate as early as 7:00a.m., but were stopped from gaining access to the estate, with mobile policemen stationed at the entrance, who only allowed foreign media practitioners access to the estate and construction site.
Attempts to get Frank Aigbogun, the Chairman of BIPORAL, to intervene were unsuccessful as he did not pick calls put through his telephone number.
It took three hours of waiting, before newsmen were allowed access, not without, the head of security in the estate harassing and hurling insults at them.
Addressing newsmen, Special Assistant (SA) to the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Special Duty and Intergovernmental Relations, Mobolaji Ogunlende , said seven persons, who sustained minor injuries, were treated on the spot without any record of major casualties, while only one person wasn’t accounted for.
Mobolaji added that the state government through LASEMA ensured that a swift response was provided to curb further casualties since the incident occurred.
Permanent Secretary, LASEMA, Dr. Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyintolu, said the government is on top of the situation and will do what needs to be done.
He said: “We moved in swiftly when the incident happened with all the primary stakeholders. Our response time was 10 minutes. We checked with our life detector and did not locate anybody under the debris. We were able to rescue seven people alive and only one of the persons injured was taken to a private hospital, and he’s receiving adequate care.
“Regarding other buildings, we are going to carry out a holistic investigation.”
On his assessment of environmental health of the construction site, Head, Environmental Services, Ikoyi-Obalende, Dr. Akingbehin Samuel, said: “Getting here, we can say there is no biological effect in this place. So, what we have to do is that people are cordoned off, we want to take stock of people coming here.
“We are much on the ground to prevent possible contamination and spread of diseases. Residents should maintain their peace because there is no danger to their health and the environment. Everyone should remain calm and this shouldn’t be seen as a tourist centre.”
The General Manager, LASBCA, Gbolahan Owodunni Oki, has ordered that private security operatives manning the facility be ordered out of the premises as it now belongs to Lagos State government.
He led officials to weld lock up all the gates.
ALSO, the immediate past President of Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) Mr. Kunle Awobodu, has said the collapse of building in Banana Island estate, is an indictment on professionalism in the country.
He called on the government, especially the Lagos authorities to arrest those culpable in the structural failure and ensure that they are prosecuted if found wanting.
Speaking with The Guardian in Lagos, he lamented that a building of such magnitude should not have collapsed, if professionals have been involved and adequately managed the production process.
He said with the incident, the Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG) has updated its record of building collapse in Nigeria from 1974 – 2023 to 552, with Lagos State, accounting for 59.06 per cent of the cases.
Awobodu said the government must identify those who manage the building construction, and punish those found guilty.
“This culture of forgiving or verbally reprimanding those who committed offences or fouled building regulations will encourage them to go back home and commit more wrongs, and it is not helping. That is why we keep having a repeat of such incidents.
“Building collapse within the most expensive terrain, a community well-organised or deemed well-organised in Nigeria sounded an aberration. Banana Island is the pride of all who admire the environment. This is a threat to the safety of human life and the value of land in one of the highly rated and secured abodes in Africa.”
“The image and reputation of those of us in the Nigerian building industry are at stake before the whole world. What excuses are we going to offer for the latest building collapse? It is unfortunate that nobody has been successfully prosecuted for building collapse offences in Nigeria.
“Quackery, compromise and impunity proceed unchecked. When human beings are not subjected to the law of consequence, misdeeds are absolved in sentiments. Alas, loss of life and property becomes a continuum,” he added.
MEANWHILE, Lagos State government said it has launched a probe into the incident, following a directive by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
The commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, in a statement, yesterday, said nobody died in the incident, while 25 people were rescued from the site.
He stressed that LASEMA scanned the incident with a high-precision 3-D Laser Imagery System for life, and found no evidence of anyone trapped in the rubble.
According to him, a roll call has also been done by the site supervisors, with everyone accounted for.
He said: “ LASEMA has continued with the excavation of the site, using the architectural designs. The site has been divided into quadrants for a painstaking search and rescue operation.
“Presently, quadrants two and three have been levelled to ground zero, with the search operation completed. Quadrants one and four are ongoing.
“Physical Planning and Urban Development Commissioner, Bamgbose-Martins, an engineer, and Special Duties Adviser, Mobolaji Ogunlende, are co-ordinating the operations. LASEMA Permanent Secretary, Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, is leading the search-and-rescue efforts.
“Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi has visited the site and hospitals where victims of the incident were admitted.
“Of the 25 persons rescued by LASEMA, 16 with moderate injuries were admitted at General Hospital, Odan, Lagos Island and Police Hospital Falomo for treatment and care. Nine others with minor injuries, such as bruises, were treated and discharged at the site by Lagos State Ambulance Services (LASAMBUS).
“Of the 16 persons on admission, 11 were taken to Police Hospital Falomo. Some are required to come for daily follow-up and management. Three with various injuries, including blunt traumatic chest injury, knee injuries, deep lacerations and others, are on admission.
“At the General Hospital Odan, Lagos Island, there are five patients with more serious injuries.
“The state government, as a matter of policy, will be responsible for the emergency treatment and care, including the medical bills of the patients on admission, It will also provide a post-trauma counselling support and care for all victims through the Lagos MiND programme (Mental Health in Development), a free mental health counselling and support service provided by the Ministry of Health.”