By Uju Mbanusi
Incidence of building collapse in Nigeria, particularly in Lagos State, has assumed an alarming dimension following its frequent occurrence.
The recent one occurred Wednesday night in Tinubu area of Lagos, after a three-storey building on No 15, Alli Street, landed on a bungalow close to it, killing three persons: an 82 year-old man, a four-year-old child and a middle-aged businessman with many others injured.
The incident which occurred at about 10.30 pm also rendered several families homeless.
Residents o f the buildings, particularly those of the bungalow located at number 16, were shocked over the disaster and wondered why they were victims.
The bungalow had 10 rooms (popularly known as ‘face me I face you’ apartments) while the three storey building comprised three bedroom flats on the second and third floors and shops on the first and ground floors.
When Crime Guard visited the scene Thursday, some of those who managed to escape were seen thanking God for sparing their lives . Some were also sighted trying to salvage the remains of their property from the rubble,while relatives of those who lost their lives and the injured were seen wailing.
Capital 1 football match saved us— Survivors
Some of the survivors who spoke to Crime Guard said they would have been among those who lost their lives had they not gone out to watch Capital 1 cup football matches.
According to one of them who identified himself as Chikwe, “ I was on my way back from a viewing centre where I had gone to watch the football matches when I heard a loud bang. At first, I thought it was a bomb and immediately took to my heels. Next thing I heard was series of cracks with people running from one direction to another.
At first, none was sure of where the loud bang was from, until we heard the shout of a woman informing us that a building had collapsed. By then, I had reached the end of the street. I never knew our building was affected until I came close, only to find some of my neighbours who also ran for safety. I couldn’t believe my eyesat the sight of the remains of what used to be home for me.
I lost everything I have laboured for, but I am grateful to God that I am alive because only the living can save for tomorrow”
How we dragged out an old man from the rubble- resident
Another resident of the area,Imoh, gave a graphic description of how they rescued one of the dead persons from the rubble. He also said he stopped at a friend’s place to watch the football match.
“ When it was about 10.30pm, I left my friend’s house to avoid being queried by my wife for coming late. Immediately I got to my street, I saw the whole place was in disarray. No one made any attempt to get close to the scene because they were afraid if another building will collapse.
Just then, we had a faint cry of help from the rubble. I had to summon courage and invited some young men to go and save the person. But we could not locate the exact area because the whole place was dark. We had to use our phones and touch lights, in the process of which I even lost my phone. Just then, we saw a hand. We tried lifting the brick on the person but could not because it was too heavy. Other people came and joined us before we managed to lift it. But by then, it was too late because the man had died. I believe he was sleeping because he laid on part of the mattress. We later discovered he was an old man who only moved in three months ago.”
We worked until the wee hours and managed to rescue about five persons alive, who were subsequently rushed to the Island General Hospital”.
Survivors recount experience on hospital beds
Crime Guard also paid a visit to Emergency Unit of the Lagos Island General Hospital where some of the injured were receiving treatment. A middle aged woman identified as Ramota Oduwole, a trader at the Lagos Island Market, who was brought in a state of coma reportedly demanded for her husband and children immediately she regained consciousness. Despite assurances from nurses that members of her family were in good health, she reportedly insisted on seeing them, until her husband who was also being attended to at the emergency unit showed up. Their eight-year-old daughter was also undergoing treatment.
Narrating how she found herself in the hospital , she said: “ I was in the apartment with my husband and children, when we heard a deafening sound. Before we knew what was happening, it was followed by a loud bang, and that was all I could remember. I woke up to find myself, my husband and our eight year-old daughter here”.
She paused for a while , looked to her left and right before continuing, “ A friend of mine sent a huge amount of money to me from abroad, to help her purchase some merchandise from the market that Wednesday. But I could not deposit it in the bank because the banks had closed. I decided to keep it at home with the intention of taking it to the bank today( Thursday).
At the moment, we are yet to find the money. It must have been stolen by hoodlums who came to loot in the name of helping out. Apart from the clothes we have on, we lost everything in the collapsed building, but I thank God for sparing our lives. I only sustained injuries on my legs and lower back. Right now, we would appreciate any kind gestures from the Lagos State Government towards helping us settle back to normal life”, she stated.
Another survivor who had a swollen face and blood-shot eyes, merely stared at this reporter, unable to identify himself when asked to, let alone to narrate his ordeal.
The Medical Director of the Lagos Island General Hospital, Dr. A.O Balogun,who spoke with Crime Guard concerning the condition of the patients, said some of those rushed in had been treated and discharged, while others whose condition were critical ,were admitted and still being attended to.
“There is a male victim with ‘uterium peritonium’ case. He is currently under observation to ascertain if he needs to be operated on… the rest of them are in stable condition. I was at the ward attending to them until few hours ago, when I had to rush down to my office for an important meeting”. he said.