Again, a building collapses at Oshodi

By Editor   |   04 May 2010   |   10:00 pm  
ONCE again, the collapse of a two-storey block of lock-up shops under construction at the Cairo Market in the Oshodi area of Lagos has brought to the fore the poor state of the building industry in the country, particularly, in Lagos. Something should be done to check the malaise. The number of such buildings that have collapsed is countless, with attendant loss of lives and property.
The fact that buildings under construction are still collapsing unabatedly after several such incidents had occurred in the past and government promised to tackle the problem shows that nothing has been learned and government’s effort in this regard is yielding no positive result. Obviously, not enough has been done to prevent the ugly phenomenon.
The latest incident is of particular interest because of the ownership. Unlike previous incidents whereby the buildings were private properties supervised by private developers, who were accused of using substandard materials, the structure that collapsed at Oshodi is a government property being erected by the Lagos State Government and directly under the supervision of the Lagos State Ministry of Works and Infrastructure. This has robbed the government of necessary moral authority as it is the same government complaining about the use of substandard building materials by private developers, that is now directly implicated.
Did government officials allow the use of substandard materials? Did the materials testing department fail to do its job? Was the construction not closely monitored before it collapsed? Who approved the building plan? And who tested and approved the materials on site? Were the officials involved compromised? These are relevant questions that should be asked and investigated. The contractor and all the government officials involved who may have been responsible for the incident either through corruption or negligence should be sanctioned accordingly.
The Oshodi building whose foundation was laid roughly a year ago collapsed around 9.00a.m. on April 26, shortly after the workers resumed work. According to reports, about 20 workers including bricklayers, carpenters, welders and other artisans were working in the building when it caved in. Nine persons reportedly died.
The prompt intervention of a rescue team from the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) following a phone call helped in rescuing most of those trapped in the building. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Fire Service, Red Cross and the police also participated in the rescue operation. As usual, the construction company, Julius Berger provided a crane. Those rescued were rushed to hospital for treatment.
The Oshodi building collapse has followed the usual pattern of similar past incidents. A building collapses trapping scores of innocent citizens. Some would die; some would be rescued with injuries. There would be tears, sorrow, hopelessness and anguish. Government officials would cordon off the place while the developer absconds. Investigations would be initiated of which nothing is heard again. The accident is forgotten until another building collapses.
It is therefore pertinent to ask: what happened in previous incidents? What punishment was meted out to the owners of the buildings to serve as deterrent to others? What measures were put in place to prevent recurrence? As building collapse has become an endemic problem in this clime, what machinery has government put in place to ensure that buildings are constructed according to laid-down procedures? What special attention has government given to this problem that is claiming the lives of innocent people?
Faced with such intractable problem, government should rise up to the challenge. So far, there is no indication that government is committed to stamping out the menace. The concerned government officials have in fact not shown enough commitment. Most of the time, they are compromised. Otherwise, how else can one explain the collapse of a building owned by government and supervised by government officials?

ONCE again, the collapse of a two-storey block of lock-up shops under construction at the Cairo Market in the Oshodi area of Lagos has brought to the fore the poor state of the building industry in the country, particularly, in Lagos. Something should be done to check the malaise. The number of such buildings that have collapsed is countless, with attendant loss of lives and property.
The fact that buildings under construction are still collapsing unabatedly after several such incidents had occurred in the past and government promised to tackle the problem shows that nothing has been learned and government’s effort in this regard is yielding no positive result. Obviously, not enough has been done to prevent the ugly phenomenon.
The latest incident is of particular interest because of the ownership. Unlike previous incidents whereby the buildings were private properties supervised by private developers, who were accused of using substandard materials, the structure that collapsed at Oshodi is a government property being erected by the Lagos State Government and directly under the supervision of the Lagos State Ministry of Works and Infrastructure. This has robbed the government of necessary moral authority as it is the same government complaining about the use of substandard building materials by private developers, that is now directly implicated.
Did government officials allow the use of substandard materials? Did the materials testing department fail to do its job? Was the construction not closely monitored before it collapsed? Who approved the building plan? And who tested and approved the materials on site? Were the officials involved compromised? These are relevant questions that should be asked and investigated. The contractor and all the government officials involved who may have been responsible for the incident either through corruption or negligence should be sanctioned accordingly.
The Oshodi building whose foundation was laid roughly a year ago collapsed around 9.00a.m. on April 26, shortly after the workers resumed work. According to reports, about 20 workers including bricklayers, carpenters, welders and other artisans were working in the building when it caved in. Nine persons reportedly died.
The prompt intervention of a rescue team from the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) following a phone call helped in rescuing most of those trapped in the building. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Fire Service, Red Cross and the police also participated in the rescue operation. As usual, the construction company, Julius Berger provided a crane. Those rescued were rushed to hospital for treatment.
The Oshodi building collapse has followed the usual pattern of similar past incidents. A building collapses trapping scores of innocent citizens. Some would die; some would be rescued with injuries. There would be tears, sorrow, hopelessness and anguish. Government officials would cordon off the place while the developer absconds. Investigations would be initiated of which nothing is heard again. The accident is forgotten until another building collapses.
It is therefore pertinent to ask: what happened in previous incidents? What punishment was meted out to the owners of the buildings to serve as deterrent to others? What measures were put in place to prevent recurrence? As building collapse has become an endemic problem in this clime, what machinery has government put in place to ensure that buildings are constructed according to laid-down procedures? What special attention has government given to this problem that is claiming the lives of innocent people?
Faced with such intractable problem, government should rise up to the challenge. So far, there is no indication that government is committed to stamping out the menace. The concerned government officials have in fact not shown enough commitment. Most of the time, they are compromised. Otherwise, how else can one explain the collapse of a building owned by government and supervised by government officials?


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