As rescue efforts continue in the search for missing persons at the collapsed seven-storey building at Banana Island in Ikoyi area of Lagos State, the authorities in Lagos engaged in buck-passing. The building, which was being developed by Joe Faraday, collapsed while workers were still on site on April 12, 2023.
The Lagos State government has now directed that all developments on Banana Island be placed on hold pending a comprehensive audit by the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA). The audit will also be extended to other estates and gated communities.
In a statement, the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, led by Tayo Bamgbose-Martins, revealed that the collapsed seven-floor building was unapproved by the Ministry. The statement released by Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Mukaila Sanusi, confirmed that there were no fatalities and that the few people who sustained injuries during the unfortunate incident while casting was being done were being treated.
Officials from the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), who arrived on the site less than an hour after the building collapsed, claimed that only one person was missing in the incident. However, some construction workers insisted that an engineer and a 30-year-old man lost their lives, and others were yet to be found.
The management of Banana Island Property Owners and Residents Association (BIPORAL) prevented newsmen from accessing the collapsed building site, with only foreign media practitioners allowed access.
Speaking to newsmen, the Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Special Duty and Intergovernmental Relations, Mobolaji Ogunlende, said seven persons who sustained minor injuries were treated on the spot, without any record of major casualties, while only one person was unaccounted for. The Permanent Secretary of LASEMA, Dr. Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyintolu, reassured the public that the government was on top of the situation and would take appropriate action.
He said: “We moved in swiftly when the incident happened with all the primary stakeholders. Our response time was 10 minutes. We checked with our life detector and did not locate anybody under the debris. We were able to rescue seven people alive and only one of the persons injured was taken to a private hospital, and he’s receiving adequate care.
“Regarding other buildings, we are going to carry out a holistic investigation.”
Dr. Akingbehin Samuel, the Head of Environmental Services in Ikoyi-Obalende, provided his assessment of the environmental health of the construction site, said: “Getting here, we can say there is no biological effect in this place. So, what we have to do is that people are cordoned off, we want to take stock of people coming here.
“We are much on the ground to prevent possible contamination and spread of diseases. Residents should maintain their peace because there is no danger to their health and the environment. Everyone should remain calm and this shouldn’t be seen as a tourist centre.”
Gbolahan Owodunni Oki, the General Manager of LASBCA, has instructed the private security personnel stationed at the facility to vacate the premises, as it is now under the ownership of the Lagos State government. He oversaw the welding of all gates on the property to secure it.
Meanwhile, the former President of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Mr. Kunle Awobodu, has decried the collapse of a building in Banana Island estate, citing it as evidence of a lack of professionalism in the country. He urged the Lagos authorities to apprehend and prosecute those responsible for the structural failure.
In an interview with The Guardian in Lagos, Awobodu expressed his disappointment that a building of such magnitude could collapse if professionals were involved in its construction and management. He also noted that the Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG) has revised its tally of building collapses in Nigeria from 1974 to 2023 to 552, with Lagos State accounting for 59.06% of the incidents.
Awobodu stressed the need for the government to identify and punish those responsible for overseeing the building’s construction.
“This culture of forgiving or verbally reprimanding those who committed offences or fouled building regulations will encourage them to go back home and commit more wrongs, and it is not helping. That is why we keep having a repeat of such incidents.
“Building collapse within the most expensive terrain, a community well-organised or deemed well-organised in Nigeria sounded an aberration. Banana Island is the pride of all who admire the environment. This is a threat to the safety of human life and the value of land in one of the highly rated and secured abodes in Africa.”
“The image and reputation of those of us in the Nigerian building industry are at stake before the whole world. What excuses are we going to offer for the latest building collapse? It is unfortunate that nobody has been successfully prosecuted for building collapse offences in Nigeria.
“Quackery, compromise and impunity proceed unchecked. When human beings are not subjected to the law of consequence, misdeeds are absolved in sentiments. Alas, loss of life and property becomes a continuum,” he added.
The Lagos State government has initiated an investigation into the incident on the directive of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, while stating that no fatalities occurred. In a statement released by the commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, yesterday, it was revealed that 25 individuals were rescued from the site. Additionally, LASEMA utilized a high-precision 3-D Laser Imagery System to search for any signs of individuals trapped in the rubble, but found no evidence. Site supervisors have also conducted a roll call and confirmed that everyone is accounted for.
He said: “LASEMA has continued with the excavation of the site, using the architectural designs. The site has been divided into quadrants for a painstaking search and rescue operation.
“Presently, quadrants two and three have been levelled to ground zero, with the search operation completed. Quadrants one and four are ongoing.
“Physical Planning and Urban Development Commissioner, Bamgbose-Martins, an engineer, and Special Duties Adviser, Mobolaji Ogunlende, are co-ordinating the operations. LASEMA Permanent Secretary, Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, is leading the search-and-rescue efforts.
“Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi has visited the site and hospitals where victims of the incident were admitted.
“Of the 25 persons rescued by LASEMA, 16 with moderate injuries were admitted at General Hospital, Odan, Lagos Island and Police Hospital Falomo for treatment and care. Nine others with minor injuries, such as bruises, were treated and discharged at the site by Lagos State Ambulance Services (LASAMBUS).
“Of the 16 persons on admission, 11 were taken to Police Hospital Falomo. Some are required to come for daily follow-up and management. Three with various injuries, including blunt traumatic chest injury, knee injuries, deep lacerations and others, are on admission.
“At the General Hospital Odan, Lagos Island, there are five patients with more serious injuries.
“The state government, as a matter of policy, will be responsible for the emergency treatment and care, including the medical bills of the patients on admission, It will also provide a post-trauma counselling support and care for all victims through the Lagos MiND programme (Mental Health in Development), a free mental health counselling and support service provided by the Ministry of Health.”