By Olasunkanmi Akoni and Monsur Olowoopejo
FOR most Lagosians, it was one disaster too many as they woke up on Monday to witness another shocking building collapse.
But thanks to Mother Nature, no life was lost but six people were not lucky enough as they sustained serious injuries. The incident happened when a portion of a factory, belonging to Haano Industry limited located at No. 144 Oba Akran Road, Ikeja beside Mapleleaf Press Limited, collapsed on the workers.
An eyewitness said the building caved in at about 11:15 am when the workers were loading frozen products from one out of the nine containers recently brought into the country.
It will be recalled that on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 a five storey building collapsed at No 11 Aderibigbe Street, Maryland, Ikeja, Lagos, but thankfully no casualty was recorded.
When Vanguard Metro, VM, visited the scene, it was gathered that the six individuals who sustained injuries were casual workers who were being paid based on the number of hours spent in loading and off-loading cartons of fish into the cold room. An eyewitness, Julius Anenei, said he could not ascertain the number of wounded persons but estimated it was up to 10.
He informed that the building which was still under construction was being used as a cold room, adding: “We were surprised to hear a loud bang and we quickly rushed out from the factory, only to discover that it was the new building that had caved in. We quickly called for help”.
Another eyewitness said that loading started about four days ago and that “yesterday, nine containers containing 1400 cartons of fish with each carton weighing 25kg were brought into the cold room”.
Another eyewitness, who simply identified himself as Matthew, blamed the collapse on the use of substandard materials by the contractor, saying a warehouse meant to house cold room should not have been constructed on a deck but on the ground floor.
“This is because the pressure from each of the cartons will be too heavy for the deck to bear and this is what I believe must have led to the collapse of the building,” Matthew stated.
VM also gathered that following damages to the personal effects of some of the workers, a shouting match soon broke out between them, the company management and the safety officials. It only took assurances to restore what was lost to calm the aggrieved workers.
According to the Safety Manager of the company, Mr. Osazu Kingley: “The collapse occurred at 10:15 am. We were busy working when we suddenly heard a loud noise at 10:00 am and immediately the building caved in. We quickly evacuated our men from the scene. But for the safety measures we took, we would have recorded serious casualties”.
The General Manager of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, who was at the scene, said that three of the workers who sustained serious injuries were rushed to the Critical Rescue International, CRI, while others were taken to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, for adequate treatment.
Oke-Osanyintolu said: “My team responded promptly to a distress call received; there was no mortality in the unfortunate incident. During the course of our investigation, we discovered that there were some lapses in the construction of the building.
We have checked the building with our machine and we discovered that no one is left inside. We also used the roll call method. We assembled all the workers and we called their names and also checked their tally numbers which corroborated our findings”.
However, a mild drama ensued when Osanyintolu directed the crane to pull down the structure as his order was met by stiff resistance from the workers who almost mobbed him in the process; it took the intervention of some Mobile policemen to save him.
The angry workers claimed they had their belongings trapped in the warehouse, fearing that pulling down the structure would leave them with no hope of retrieving them. They also claimed that they had not been paid for the job they were carrying out before the building caved in.
One of the casual workers who had joined the team of loaders in the warehouse barely 24 hours before the collapse, claimed that he had N480, 000 trapped under the rubbles. “My elder brother had promised to raise money for me to shoot my video because I am a music artiste.
So I had collected the money yesterday (Sunday) and since I was going to resume early this morning, I wrapped it in a black nylon bag and kept it somewhere safe hoping that on Tuesday I will go straight to the bank to save the money,” he narrated.
Recently, the Lagos State Government said plans were on to roll out measures that would revolutionise the system of obtaining building approvals with a view to reducing the bureaucratic bottleneck in accordance with the existing laws and guidelines.
The Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr. Olutoyin Ayinde, stated this at a meeting with officials of some professional organisations in the built industry.
He stated that the meeting was meant to sensitize the professionals, especially those in the built environment, on the need to collaborate with the Ministry in the in order to chart a new course for the construction industry.
Ayinde solicited the support and cooperation of professional bodies, stating that a joint action would reduce the incidence of illegal development of buildings. He listed one of the measures to include the establishment of the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service, LIRS, within the Ministry to hasten approval process in consonance with the operation 30-days approval time limit.
The commissioner noted that professionals in the sector also have the collective responsibility of changing the face of Physical Planning and Urban Development as a result of their contributions to requests for approvals submitted to the Ministry.
He admonished them not to bring substandard jobs to the Ministry for approval, adding that all professionals must work towards the same goal of quality service delivery.