For Lagosians, news of a building collapsing is just another Sunday, except for people that are unfortunately affected.
The state is a witness to many incidents of buildings, completed and uncompleted, crashing down to the ground.
It’s impossible to forget how more than 40 people died when a 21-storey luxury building under construction in Ikoyi collapsed in November 2021. The collapse of a three-storey building in Lagos Island in May 2022 also claimed the lives of three people.
Despite the promises made by different administrations over the years to put a stop to the unfortunate trend, it isn’t slowing down. And now, yet another building has collapsed.
On Sunday, September 4th, 2022, a building collapsed in Oba Idowu Oniru Street beside Avi Maria in Victoria Island, Lagos. The seven-storey building was still under construction when it collapsed and trapped six people under it.
The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) responded to the scene of the collapse to commence rescue operations.
By the end of Sunday, emergency workers recovered two bodies from under the rubble. The agency recovered four more bodies on Monday, September 5th, 2022, leaving the death toll at six.
Who’s responsible for the building collapse?
Before its collapse on Sunday, the Lagos State government shut down construction work at the building site three times over code violations. But construction somehow resumed each time.
When he visited the site of the collapse on Sunday, the Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Idris Salako, vowed to crack down on those behind the project.
The commissioner accused the building developer of disregarding the state’s building planning laws. He said the developer constructed the building without a valid planning permit.
According to Salako, the developer merely applied for the permit and went ahead with construction without getting approval. The name of the developer hasn’t been made public, but the commissioner accused him of using his personal security to intimidate government officials who attempted to inspect the project.
The government is now searching for the developer and all the professionals that worked on the building.
Who’s the scapegoat?
On Monday, September 5th, Salako resigned as the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development in Lagos. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu called it a “restructuring” of the ministry, but that’s like calling a potato a fruit. The resignation was obviously a consequence of the collapsed building and dozens of others that have happened in Lagos.
And the governor gave himself away when, in a statement about the resignation, he warned stakeholders in the building sector to play by the rules or face consequences.
The resignation or dismissal of a government official in reaction to tragic incidents is very rare in Nigeria. Should the government do more of this? Maybe it might help foster a culture of accountability?
How to stop the next building collapse
The government has its work cut out for it and needs to improve surveillance of buildings under construction across the state. But vigilant citizens can also help the government by sending tips to authorities if they suspect buildings in their environment aren’t up to code. If you see something, say something as that’s what might prevent the next tragedy.