Aware that the obvious absence of strict enforcement of laws, especially as it relates to building control is responsible for frequent incidences of building collapse, loss of lives and properties in the state, Lagos state governor Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Wednesday said he would enforce the state’s law on building that collapsed in Gerrard Road in Ikoyi area of the state killing over 29 people.
The governor who spoke at the scene where a 21-storey building collapsed in Ikoyi lamented the increasing rate of collapsed buildings in the state, saying a modern mega city like Lagos should not be associated with such menace.
Available statistics had revealed that Lagos state has recorded the highest number of both collapsed buildings and the number of casualties with about 36,000 potential collapse waiting to happen, on the average due to defective structures that litter the state’s metropolis.
To tackle the daunting challenge posed by defective building, Chapter 59 Section 74 of the Urban and regional planning and development law of Lagos state 2010 which was signed by former Governor, Mr. Raji Fashola states that in the event of the collapse of any property or structure due to negligence on the part of the owner, or the developer, such property shall be forfeited to the state government after due investigation and or publication in the state official gazette.
Not amused by the current situation Sanwo-Olu who truncated his official overseas trip because of the calamity caused by the collapse assured that it will no-longer be business as usual in the construction sector in the state.
The governor who admitted that “mistakes were made” before the collapse of the high-rise building in the Ikoyi area of the state said, “This is an event that one can say that indeed mistakes were made from all angles and this is an event that truly really shouldn’t be happening in modern day city like Lagos state.”
Sanwo-Olu who said anyone found guilty would face the full wrath of the law confirmed the indefinite suspension of the general manager, Lagos State Building Control Agency, Arc. Gbolahan Owodunni Oki.
“That, I gave instructions to. We would say that we had to take from the head, from the leadership of that agency. Be rest assured that if there are other people that are found in the course of the investigation, everybody will face the full wrath of the law,” he said
Speaking further, he described the incident as a national tragedy as he sympathised with those affected.
“My deepest condolences to families and loved ones of people that might have been involved in this very unfortunate, tragic, monumental national loss,” Sanwo-Olu said.
He also thanked and commended the rescue team stating, “the gallant first responders and other parties, public and private, involved in the search and rescue mission.”
Sanwo-Olu also gave the panel a 30-day deadline to submit the report of the findings of the cause(s) of the collapse, saying an executive order would be signed to give legal backing to the Panel of Inquiry set up to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the accident.
Members of the panel are Toyin Ayinde (Chairman); Ekundayo Onajobi (Secretary); Idris Akintilo; Yinka Ogundairo; Godfrey. O. Godfrey and Mrs Bunmi Ibrahim.
The governor assured that the law would take its full course on whoever was found culpable in the accident.
”It is on record that we asked the general manager of the Building Control Agency, Architect Oki, to proceed on an indefinite suspension.
”You can rest assured that if there are other people that are found in the course of the investigation, everybody will also face the full wrath of the law.
”So for us to get to the real issue of what had happened, I have set up a high-powered commission of inquiry. It is a strong, professional, investigative panel that consists of everybody from outside of government.
”I will be signing an executive order to give legal backing to their composition, so that you can start work immediately and turn in a report not later than 30 days,” he said.
The state government also identified six of the nine survivors from the rubbles in the Ikoyi building collapse.
They are Oduntan Timilehin (26); Ahmed Keleku (19, from Cotonou); Sunday Monday (21, suffered left leg fracture); Adeniran Mayowa (37, hip injury); Solagbade Nurudeen (33, pelvic injury); and Waliu Lateef (32).
Sanwo-Olu said that the bereaved families would be invited to identify their loved ones, latest by Thursday, after autopsy have been conducted on the bodies recovered.
As of the time of filing this report was reliably gathered that the number of dead bodies exhumed from the rubble had risen to 29, with so many people said to be trapped, as rescue operation is intensified in the site.