By Bose Adelaja
I am ruined! Where do I start from? I lost my father and my husband in the collapsed building. Also, all our life earnings are gone with the disaster. Where do I start from?’’, Mrs Fatimo Alake said amidst tears as sympathisers gathered around her on Thursday.
Venue was the scene of the collapsed building at No 29b Oloto Street, Ebute-Metta, Lagos, where she had resided for the past two years. Before she became an occupant of the building, she lived on the third street, but, due to accommodation challenges in the area, she and her husband decided to live at No 29b.
The ill-fated three-storey building, constructed about ten years ago, reportedly developed cracks all over and was being repaired annually before the collapse.
On that fateful Thursday, the occupants of the building were asleep when a loud bang was heard around 1.30am. Immediately, some of them rushed outside but others could not until the building caved in; in the process, some people lost their lives while others sustained injuries.
Those who died include a couple and a house wife, an eighteen months old and an old man.
Some residents of the building told Sunday Vanguard the police were the first to arrive the scene, followed by the state Fire Service and then the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, led by its South West information officer, Ibrahim Farinloye.
While Miss Baliks Abdulamid and her siblings were lucky, Fatimo lost her father to the incident while her husband had his leg broken and was rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment. The husband died hours later.
Narrating her story, Fatimo and her husband were able to escape the incident leaving her aged father on the bed. Moments later, they remembered the father husband rushed back to the room to save his father-in-law, carried him and was on his way out of the building when he fell and both were trapped until the building caved in. Fatimo’s father died on the spot while her husband died in hospital.
As soon as the news of the incident was broken, the landlord, identified as Alhaji Oladimeji Gbaja, who lived next door, escaped.
Inconsolable Fatimo said the family rented the mini flat two years ago and renewed their annual rent three days before the incident, ‘’We paid an annual rent of N120,000 and the last one was paid on Monday July 8, 2013. I lived on the next street until I had an accommodation problem and we parked into the mini flat. The house was quite affordable to many but the incident had dealt a blow on me. All our property are gone and where do I start from…?’’, she lamented.
On why they rented the apartment inspite of the cracks all over the building, she said, ‘’the building was in a good shape and I wouldn’t have parked in if I knew it was substandard?’’
Also, she spoke glowingly about her landlord “who was nice to us”. “ For instance, he used to exercise patience with his tenants in case they are owing rent. Also, the rent was affordable to many but the bone of contention is that we have just paid another rent last Monday which expires in June 2014. I have lost two prominent people in my life had I known, I would have had a second thought.”
There have been conflicting figures of the casualty of the incident. While NEMA said seven died and seven were rescued, Lagos State Emergency Management Authority, LASEMA, boss, Dr. Femi-Oke Osanyintolu, said “10 people were rescued alive and four were confirmed dead” . Osanyintola said integirty test will be carried out on 10 buildings on the street.’