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Lagos marks 500 buildings for demolition • Survivors recount lucky escape

Posted by By FEMI BABAFEMI, PHILIP NWOSU, TESSY OKOYE and TOYOSI OGUNSEYE on 2006/07/21 | Views: 427 |

Lagos marks 500 buildings for demolition • Survivors recount lucky escape

Lagos State government has marked 500 houses across the state for demolition. Also, the state government has given residents of.....

Lagos State government has marked 500 houses across the state for demolition. Also, the state government has given residents of another building constructed by the man who developed the ill-fated collapsed building in Ebute Metta quit notices.

General Manager, Lagos State Physical Planning and Development Authority, Alhaji Sulaiman Yusuf, told Daily Sun on Thursday that before the last collapsed building tragedy the authority had conducted a thorough evaluation on the state of houses in Lagos mainland.

According to Yusuf, the list of the 500 houses marked for demolition would be made public in two weeks, adding that 100 houses had already been declared disaster zones due to their deplorable state.

Meantime, fear of possible calamity has spurred residents of other houses built by the developer of the collapsed house number 71a Ibadan Street, Ebute Metta to embark on mass evacuation. An eviction notice has also been served residents of the buildings.

The eviction notice, with serial number S/NO PDMD/YAB 06/QN301A, served on residents of house number 49 Ibadan Street, Ebute Metta, by the Lagos State Physical Planning and Development Authority, Development Control Department, Alausa Ikeja, gave the tenants seven days to vacate the property.
According to one of the government officials, who spoke to Daily Sun, the erection of the building without approved plan and road setback, contravened the Lagos State Edict number 2 of 1998. He said based on the notice, the tenants were expected to leave the house, which might be demolished to avert further loss of lives and properties.

On Thursday, most of the occupants of the building were seen looking pensive and whispering in low tones. One of them, Mrs. Rashidat Ashimi, said however, that there was no reason for the eviction notices, as the building in question has not shown signs of danger.
She said: " This is not fair on us. Where do they want us to move our family and property? This house is older than the one that fell and it is strong."

However, tenants in another building by the same property developer were seen moving out their property. The tenants, who were seen packing their valuables into trucks, told Daily Sun that they had to leave in order to avoid another calamity.

In a related development, rescue operations continued at the site of the collapsed building on Thursday. In the last count, five more bodies were excavated from the rubble of the collapsed building. Among them was the accountant of the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, who was identified as Mr. Adeniyi Dayo.

The body of the accountant, who was said to have packed into the building three months ago with his family, according to officials of the Red Cross Society, was taken to the mortuary, while his wife and two children were brought out alive and are responding to treatment.

The chairman of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, in Lagos State, Deacon Timothy Oladele, told Daily Sun that the five persons brought out from the rubble dead had been moved to the Lagos State General Hospital mortuary. The Red Cross said the five corpses recovered had raised casualty figures from 20, on Wednesday, to 25.

Narrating his experience, Mr. Friday Jonathan Chukwu, an occupant of the building, said he survived miraculously from the collapsing structure by jumping unto the roof of another building close to his own. He said: "I was inside my apartment enjoying the evening and suddenly my sister-in-law came to alert me that the building was about collapsing and in shock and disbelief I ran out. When I got to the staircase I discovered that if I used the steps I would not survive as it had collapsed.

" I did not know what to do. I followed the back door to see if I could escape, but the building was coming down fast and there was no time to think. Suddenly, the roof came down on me and I fell down and quickly I got up and continued the race for life as we tried frantically to get out before being buried inside the building I was lucky and I jumped with my sister unto the roof of the neighbouring compound."
Chukwu, who said he paid five years advance rents, said his wife escaped death because he was in her brother’s residence in the neighbourhood to watch home video when the tragedy happened.
Another survivor, Abbas Fatimoh, narrating how he escaped from the falling building, said: "I was in our room on the second floor and noticed some serious cracks on the wall. I was about calling our neighbour to show her my finding when the building started shaking. Immediately, I struggled and found my way outside. The building collapsed like a pack of cards.

"Most of the people that died in that house, were trapped on the staircase. Everybody was struggling to escape and most ended up not getting to safety. It was later that people started telling us the history of that place and that they nick-named the house Titanic House."

Private Sunday Nwigboko, a soldier with the Nigerian Army, said: "I just finished making a call and was about stepping on the staircase when I heard a rumbling. When I noticed the building was about to collapse, I tried to escape and a woman was standing in my front. In order to save her life too, I had to push her and we both crawled out to the street. My younger brothers were not so lucky as they were trapped and sustained serious injuries. I thank God that they are responding to treatment at Lagos Island General Hospital."

Baba Aminu Arewa
My daughter, Roliatu Arewa, was trapped in one of the shops on the ground floor, where she was learning to sew clothes. Also trapped were three other apprentices. I thank Allah because he has done me great and she is responding to treatment. I did not know the building was not good. If I had known, I would have stopped her from going there.

Mr. Onu Agba
I have been living in that house for the past three and half years. When I moved in, I noticed cracks in the house. I found out that approval was given for two-storey building of six flats, but they went and built 36 flats and 18 shops. People are still trapped underneath the rubble. My family travelled and I was about entering the building when it collapsed. I just had a gash on my forehead and no other injury.

Segun Oladunjoye
I moved into the building in 2002 and have been staying on the first floor of the building. When we noticed cracks on the walls, we called them and they told us there was no cause for alarm. On that very night, I was watching STV news when I heard some strange noise and saw people running. Immediately, I ran outside. I saw the building collapsed on other tenants. My younger brother was injured and is on admission at St Paul’s Hospital, Ebute Metta. I have been having nightmares. It has not been easy for me since then.

Bunmi Owolabi
I stay on the first floor with my family and mother. When we heard the noise, we all started running out. As we were running out of our room, the floor was caving in. It was just the grace of God that we survived. As at the time we left the building, it had not collapsed. When I went back later to prepare for church I saw that the whole building was gone. My younger brother was the only one that was injured because he ran back to rescue some twins that were trapped in the building.

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