On Monday, a 21-story building fell on Gerard Road in the Ikoyi region of Lagos State, killing at least ten people.
Many persons, including the Managing Director of Fourscore Heights Limited, Mr Femi Osibona, who owned the building, and some of his clients and engineers, were still trapped in the wreckage at the time the story was reported.
According to PUNCH newspaper, workmen were on the scene about 2 p.m. when the structure collapsed.
Gabriel Bassey, one of the survivors, told one of our journalists that roughly 50 people were still buried under the wreckage.
He said, “This project, 360 Degree, was built by Fourscore Homes Limited. I was trying to plug my phone and not up to five seconds that I left the spot, I saw the building coming down and I ran to safety. We have a lot of people trapped in the rubble, who we need to bring out.
“When the incident happened, we brought out six dead bodies and we still have like 30 Togolese and Nigerian bricklayers and four engineers and other workers. My boss, Mr Femi, is still trapped in the building. He was on the 18th floor with some of his clients, who wanted to buy the building, when the incident happened.”
Blessing Feyijimi, an eyewitness, bemoaned the first responders’ lack of equipment, claiming that if they were better equipped, more people would have been rescued.
He said, “When the incident happened around 1.36pm, we started rescuing people but the security men locked the gate and didn’t allow people to enter. We protested and forced our way in. We recovered four dead bodies on the last floor and rescued four injured persons; but some people are still trapped in the rubble.”
Hakeem Odumosu, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, acknowledged the deaths of five people while noting that three others were retrieved alive.
Ibrahim Farinloye, the National Emergency Management Agency’s South-West Coordinator, said four bodies were found from the structure, with four others saved alive.
The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, the National Emergency Management Agency, the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, the Lagos State Fire Service, and Federal Road Safety Corps, police, army and paramedics were among the emergency responders on the scene.
In response to the tragedy, the Lagos State Government urged residents to remain calm.
Gbenga Omotosho, the state commissioner for information and strategy, said in a statement that rescue organizations were on the scene trying to save individuals trapped beneath the rubble.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, he said, has ordered an investigation into the incident, and that the results of the investigation will be made public.
In a statement released on Monday, the state Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development announced that inquiries into the reason of the collapse had begun.
Bola Arilesere, the Co-ordinator of the Building Collapse Prevention Guild’s Ikoyi-Obalende Cell, said in a chat with one of our correspondents that, “No building of that scale under construction should collapse unless it was pulled down or some explosives were planted to destroy it. So, something went wrong technically.
“It is likely that some people deliberately tried to cover it up. We only had the structure in place; it suggests a sub-structural failure. We need to dig deep.”
The President, Nigerian Institute of Building, Prof. Yohana Izam, expressed sadness over the incident and the “monumental loss of material resources and human fatalities.”
“There should be a thorough investigation to test the implementation of physical planning and development laws in Lagos and ensure that culprits are heavily sanctioned,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Prowess Engineering Limited, which designed the structure and oversaw its development, said it left the project in 2020 because it no longer shared the same vision as the owners, Fourscore Heights Limited.
In a letter to Osibona dated February 20, 2020, the Managing Director of Prowess Engineering Limited, Muritala Olawale, stated that his firm could not guarantee the building’s integrity from anything above the fourth story.
Olawale, who worked on two other Osibona construction projects, said his firm was pulling out of the third because of “how the project is being executed.”
“We can guarantee the integrity of the first two buildings and also the work 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. This we do not have control over as we do not have the concrete cube test results of each stage of the building till date. Also, note that we are not taking responsibility for any other construction errors that may have occurred overtime on the project,” the letter read in part.