By Kingsley Adegboye
Unless something urgent is done, we may be witnessing more building collapses, as over 1000 buildings in Lagos Island have been allegedly certified distressed.
Mr. Kunle Awobodu, 1st Vice President, Nigerian Institute of Building NIOB, and the immediate past President of Building Collapse Prevention Guild BCPG, while reacting to yesterday’s collapsed building in Ita Faji Street, Lagos Island, said “From our findings which revealed over 1000 structures were distressed, we had also recommended that those structures should be earmarked for demolition in Lagos Island.
“We equally told the state government to carry out integrity test on more structures in the area, but due to lack of political will, nothing was done by the government”, pointing out that the incessant building collapses being recorded in Lagos Island, is due to the peculiarity of the local developers who are not professionals.
Awobodu said the five-storey building with a pent house that collapsed yesterday morning killing unspecified number of school children, had been earmarked for demolition because it was discovered to be structurally distressed.
According to him, Lagos Island which used to be the historical base of Brazilian returnees, and a symbol of magnificent buildings, has become a citadel of building collapse because of activities of quack developers.
Describing Lagos Island developers as more or less businessmen, Awobodu, a professional builder said what the developers do is to deceive Lagos Island landlords to surrender their old buildings to them for redevelopment and at the end of the day, they end up developing shoddy structures.
Lamenting the efforts of the Nigerian Institute of Building and those of Building Collapse Prevention Guild to address the incidents of building collapse in Lagos Island as regrettable, he said “We talked to them to see reasons to desist from developing shoddy structures in the area. They promised to do the right thing, but unfortunately, we are hearing of building collapse everyday.
Insisting that political influence in Lagos Island has greatly contributed to the incessant collapses in the sprawling environment, Awobodu said the way forward is for the state government to as a matter of urgency set up a special task force to check the rate at which buildings are collapsing in the area.
Also reacting to the incident, Lagos State Building Control Agency LASBCA, said the building that caved in had been marked for demolition since last year because it was discovered by the Agency to be distressed. Titi Ajirotutu who spoke to our correspondent on phone on behalf of LABSCA, said the Agency was shocked to hear of the collapse of the same structure that earmarked for demolition a year ago.
The residents who spoke with our correspondent lamented the high number of lives that have been lost to the collapse of such buildings in the past. They also appealed to the government to stop churches and school owners in the area from using high-rise buildings as their base for operations
They alleged that the collapsed building had been marked for demolition but government officials failed to carry out the demolition because the owner bribed them.
“The building has been marked for demolition, but the government officials always collect bribe from the owner which was the reason lasted till yesterday before it eventually caved in. The owners of such distressed buildings always boast that they have people in government they can bribe to overlook the proposed demolition of the buildings” one of the residents alleged.
It would be recalled that last year the state government disclosed that it had identified 149 distressed buildings across the State in the last one year, out of which 40 have been demolished.
Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Prince Rotimi Ogunleye disclosed this at a ministerial press conference in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
He added that in the next phase, 38 other defective structures had been earmarked for demolition, as government would not tolerate cases of collapsed buildings in any part of the State.
“In a systematic approach to curtail occurrences of building collapse, 149 distressed building were identified at different locations of which 40 of such have been removed while the next phase of 38 structurally defective structures have been earmarked for removal. Others would follow suite to safeguard lives and property,” he said.
Ogunleye also revealed that the Ministry embarked on an Intensive Audit, through the Lagos State Material Testing Laboratory (LSMTL) and visited the 57 Local Government/Council Development Areas of the State to inspect both on-going construction sites and completed buildings suspected to be distressed.
“Consequently, 1,842 sites were visited, 1,392 test advice notices were served and information on buildings identified as distressed were forwarded to the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) for necessary action,” he stated.
The commissioner said in last year’s briefing, the Ministry announced the embargo on the development of Petrol Filling Stations (PFS) in the State so as to take inventory and review requirements geared towards safety of lives and property, and orderly development.
“Taking into account the recent explosion of 2 (two) Gas Plants in the State, a more comprehensive revision to include gas plants was deemed necessary. This exercise is nearing completion with inputs from relevant MDAs of Government. Once completed, a Public Notice would be issued.
“With regards to illegal, unsafe, non-conforming developments, the activities of unscrupulous developers continue to pose a lot of challenges to Government. However, all hands are on deck to control their operations by continuous monitoring and enforcement as well as utilizing the Whistle Blowing Policy which provides an avenue for stakeholders to expose any kind of information or development activity that is deemed illegal, unethical, or non-conforming.
“The Ministry urges all Lagosians to report distressed buildings, illegal and non-conforming developments to the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA) and Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory (LSMTL) through our Helplines on our handbills,” he said.