.

.Calls for public submission of memoranda

.Interrogates govt officials scrutinized project plans by the developer so far

..11 more days to complete sittings

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

A six-man Tribunal of Inquiry set up by Lagos State Government into the collapse of 21 storey building at 44 B,C,D Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, has explained why it has not made its activities known to the public, claiming professionalism.

It, however, called on the public, professional bodies and construction industry stakeholders, as well as individuals to submit memoranda that have a direct bearing on the incident as well as their recommendations to prevent future occurrence.

The chairman of the panel, TPl. Toyin Ayinde, made the remarks on Monday, during a media conference, at Lagos State Waterways Agency, LASWA Terminal Building, Five Cowrie Creek, Ikoyi, Lagos on the update and activities of the panel so far since inauguration, held

Recall that on November 1, 2021, the 21 storey building, suddenly, collapsed killing about 45 persons, including the developer, Femi Osibona, and 15 injured.

Subsequently, on Thursday, November 4, 2021, Lagos State Governor, Bababjide Sanwo-Olu, inaugurated a six-man Panel to probe the incident with a view to prevent future occurrence.

The terms of reference of the panel include: Determining the cause(s) of the collapse of the 21-storey building under construction; Determining whether there was full compliance with the Physical Planning, building, building materials testing, Laws and regulations in Lagos State by the developer or by any other person.

“Determining whether there were any supervisory, oversight or enforcement lapses on the part of any of the relevant regulatory authorities in the State; Investigating and procuring from all listed professionals on the project their contracts of service, drawings, minutes of site meetings, schedules and all other relevant documents that may assist in the inquiry; Investigating and conducting necessary tests on materials used for the construction of the collapsed building.

“Obtaining and scrutinizing all project drawings and specifications filed and submitted by the Developer to the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development and its sister agencies for Building and Urban Development Permits/Approvals with respect to the collapsed building.

“Making recommendations on how to best ensure the safety of the construction space and prevent building collapse in Lagos State, both for development of projects and to ensure an effective and efficient regulatory environment.

“Recommending disciplinary action or prosecution of any person or corporate body found culpable and Investigating any other matters incidental to any of the terms of reference stated above. “

The Tribunal was given 30 days to complete its task which had spent 19 days of sitting already with 11 days to the end of the sitting.

Calling for memoranda, Ayinde stated that the tribunal could be reached through the email address: lagosgerrardtribunal@gmail.com

“This is where all memoranda, recommendations and submissions can be sent to on or before Wednesday, November 24, 2021,” he stated.

Ayinde stated: “The purpose of this press conference is to apprise the press, and the general public, of what the Tribunal has done so far, and what our activities are likely to be in the remaining days ahead.

“The Tribunal which comprises six professionals in the private sector, and who are certified members of their professions, began sitting immediately after its inauguration on Thursday, 4th November 2021.

“There may have been concerns or agitations about why the Tribunal has not spoken to the Press. We will like to state that members of the Tribunal are professionals, and our calling demands that we make statements from informed and verified positions.

“We are compelled to speak only when investigations have been made, reports and documents submitted, queried, analysed and discussions held with relevant stakeholders.

“So far the activities of the Tribunal have included: Setting up the Secretariat and arranging logistics for the successful conduct of activities; A visit to the site of the collapse on Friday,  November 5, for a general assessment of the rescue operations, and to determine areas where expert consultants’ services would be required.

“A visit to the General Hospital, Broad Street to interview some of the survivors who could offer some eyewitness accounts.

“Engaging the services of consultant building materials testing laboratory for the purpose of addressing item (e) of the TOR;  Engaging the services of a consultant Land Surveyor to conduct verticality tests on the remaining structures within the premises of the collapsed building;

“Writing the relevant Government MDA’s to request for all files and documentation relating to the collapsed building.

“Writing to all consultants and developer/contractors associated with the project on 44 B,C,D Gerrard Road, Ikoyi; and listing more than 30 stakeholders relevant to the construction industry and the collapsed building, whose views, position papers and recommendations would be received and considered.

“Those that the Tribunal consider necessary to chat with would be invited.”

Speaking on the procedure for sitting, Ayinde confirmed that some documents have been received from some government, Departments, Agencies, MDA’s and members have started studying them.

“We have also interviewed some of the LASG staff in the relevant MDA’s.

“We however appeal to members of the public, professional bodies and construction industry stakeholders, as well as individuals who have useful information and invite them to submit memoranda which have a direct bearing on the particular issue being investigated, as well as their recommendations to prevent future occurrence.

“The Tribunal began formal interviews with witnesses from Tuesday, November 16, 2021, in order to identify the roles played in the activities that led to the collapse of the building and received the report from the consultants who conducted verticality tests on the remaining structures standing in the premises of the collapsed building.

“The results of the tests on the construction materials are still being awaited.

“The interviews conducted have been recorded for the purpose of record-keeping, and the Tribunal would meet as many as are willing to present credible and factual statements, with evidence(s), relating to the collapse.

“The Tribunal’s mode of communication would be to brief the Media through Press releases as and when required, so that the public may be aware of the conduct of the proceedings.”

The chairman, therefore, appealed for public cooperation, saying, “we hope that we will, together with all stakeholders, be able to solve this problem on a permanent basis.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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