By Bose Adebayo
Wednesday was yet another black day for the building industry in Lagos. An uncompleted storey building at Adenike Street, off New market in the popular Oniru Estate, Victoria Island suddenly came crumbling.
The incident which allegedly occurred at about 10 am left one dead and two others simply identified as Kunle, an iron bender and Mulikat, a food vendor badly wounded before they were pulled out from the rubbles. In fact fears are rife that the duo might have their legs amputated.
None of the workers at the construction site had any premonition of the tragedy that awaited them when they resumed work that fateful day. Vanguard Metro learnt that the workers were already busy with the dayâ€™s work when the tragedy occurred.
â€˜â€™The incident happened barely ten minutes after I resumed my usual duty as a food vendor in this place. I come here everyday to sell â€œtuwo shinkafaâ€ to my customers who are mainly workers at the construction site. While some of them (workers) were busy with various aspects of the construction work, others sang to different tunes. Suddenly, what we heard was a deafening noise and in a twinkling of an eye, the building came down. I saw some of the workers scampering for safety,â€ said a lady who gave her name simply as Amariya.
â€˜â€™There was a rumble and this wasÂ followed by the falling of the concrete. In a twinkling of an eye, all the pillars gave way. The building completely collapsed and trapped two of the workers while the third was immediately crushed to death,â€™â€˜ an eye witness told Vanguard Metro.
When this reporter visited the scene, the site had been sealed off by Lagos State Government. The public notice read: â€œThis premises has been declared stressed and injurious for occupants, owners and developers. Occupants are hereby warned to keep off from within and around the premises from henceforth. Take note that failure to comply or break seal will attract sanctions by the Authority. Lagos State Government Physical Planning and Development.
While some occupants of the street attributed the incident to the use ofÂ substandard material, others said the job was done haphazardly.Â â€˜â€™I want to believe they have a target, if not, I wonder why theyÂ rushed the construction the way they did. They started this building about three months ago and have gone far before the incident.
Thank God they have not given it out to tenants. The number of people who would have died would be unimaginableâ€™â€˜ an eyewitness who identified himself as Chijioke Stephen said.
Another eye witness told Vanguard Metro that sympathisers rushed to the scene with hammers and other rescuing equipments before the arrival of safety officials, â€˜â€™To be frank with you, I donâ€™t think the construction was handled by professionals because the structure was evidently too weak.
Many of us usually make jest with the workers that their oga does not want to spend money because of how they mix a small quantity of cement with a large quantity of sand,â€™â€˜ said Adeleke Odede.
The workers were said to haveÂ raised an alarm that attracted some sympathisers who began the rescue operation using the obsolete equipments at their disposal. Officials of the Lagos State Accident and Emergency Service, Police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps also joined the rescue operation ,â€™â€˜ another eye witness said.
A visibly upset resident of the area who gave his name as Chibuzo called on the government to check the activities of dubious developers.
â€˜â€™We have had enough of collapsed buildings; the government should do something to forestall the occurrence. We should not allow people to die like chickens. Many of them come to site to seek their daily bread but have ended up, wasting their lives. Those found to have compromised standardsÂ should not go scot free, there should be penaltiesÂ for using substandard materials. Everybody will not be landlord or landlady overnight, they should count the cost before going to site,â€™â€˜ Chibuzo submitted.