BY AGADA IKECHUKWU
It was sunset at noon. The clouds became dark. They are feeling some glacial pang of pains like the stab of a dagger of ice frozen from a poisoned well.
For a mother, the only thing more painful than birth pangs is the pain of watching your children kidnapped by the cold hands of death. They are down and out, their souls are vexed about the incident.
If love and tears were enough, some of the relatives and sympathisers could have mustered the whole world to save the dead but death have other tragic plans. Their loved ones are gone in an undisguised hours, leaving them in the cold in the drudgery of life.
These are the sad tales and harrowing confessions of the residents of Ita Faji, OkeArin, Kakawa streets, Lagos Island, Lagos State. The structures which are among the hundreds of buildings marked by the Lagos State Government for demolition caved in within a space of two weeks.
Though no one was trapped in the case of Kakawa street because the building was marked for demolition and occupants had vacated the collapsed structure, however, it affected a bungalow with three occupants. The story was however different from that of Ita Faji and Oke Arin where scores of people lost their lives and many hospitalised.
Most of the residents who spoke with Vanguard over the development expressed disappointment and anguish, blaming it on the Lagos State Government’s double standard. Mr. Chikelu, a civil engineer, who resides in the vicinity, picked holes on the sincerity of the Lagos State Government to effect demolition as parroted in the media.
His words: “The Lagos State Government should be held responsible for the deaths. The buildings were isolated to be brought down years now, for failing series of integrity tests conducted, but government obviously compromised and the result is this unfortunate incident.”
Another resident who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter travelled a strange lane. She fingered politicians performing rituals as the brains behind the recurring building collapse.
“She went down memory lane, “When Ambode won the gubernatorial election, more than forty houses were burnt, properties destroyed. Now, San-wolu is warming up and buildings are collapsing, occultic politicians are effecting their spiritual promises,” “she thundered”
However, Vanguard learned that some occupant of the Ita Faji apartment, lost close family members varying from two to five. It was gathered that a woman who lost her children to the rubble, took her life as the grief exceeded her elastic limits.
Speaking with a parent who lost his five children, he went uncontrollably as he battled tears to talk. In an emotion laden voice, he said : “ My world has crumbled. God why me! What have I done wrong? I have served you diligently but you abandoned me when I needed you most” “He cried as he continued to weep”
SOLUTIONS TO THE PROBLEM
It is imperative that the Lagos State Government should revisit and renew the entire Lagos master plan; most importantly, it should commence an urban renewal programme for its inner cities that are presently suffering degradation, dilapidation and ruin. Government should be proactive not reactive in approaching governance.
The Lagos State Government should set up a high powered committee comprising government officials and the private sector core professionals which would employ the Lagos State Material Testing Laboratory to check the integrity of buildings in these areas: Mushin, Ajegunle, Shomolu, Bariga, Ketu, Iyana-Ipaja, Abule Egba, etc. Buildings and other development that do not comply or align with the spirit, concept and context of the urban renewal master plan should be paid in this regard to Lagos Island
The 40-members Lagos State House of Assembly should as a matter of urgency pass a resolution, urging the Lagos State Government to commence the demolition of all marked buildings in Lagos State irrespective of whose ox is gored to avert further collapse and save lives.