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States begin integrity tests on buildings

Following the recent collapse of a building at Ita Faji area of Lagos State, which claimed over 20 lives, and another in Sogoye, in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, some state governments have started taking actions to prevent such incidents from happening again, from our reports.

The Lagos State government had immediately after the incident, set up a five-man panel to investigate not only the immediate and remote causes of the Faji building collapse, but recommend measures that would forestall such incidents from recurring.

In Osun, the state government announced that it will carry out integrity tests on houses suspected to be weak following the building collapse incident in Lagos and Oyo states.

The state’s Supervisor for Works, Mr Remi Omowaiye, said in a statement, that the directive on integrity tests would be carried out immediately because the state did not want the collapse of any building.

In a related development, authorities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, have said the FCT Administration has taken preventive measures to check building collapse in the capital city.

The FCTA, last week, identified a three-storey building in the FCDA quarters, Garki, with large cracks that started from its foundation and reaching up to the 2nd floor.

The ground floor, which suffers the major crack, may degenerate and lead to the collapse of the building as the structure becomes weaker.

The coordinator, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), Tpl. Umar Shuaibu, said the occupants of the structure were served notice over three months ago to vacate the building to ensure that proper steps were taken to correct the fault identified in the building.

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He said, however, the occupants refused to adhere to the notice as they insisted that the FCT authority should provide them with an alternative accommodation.

“We have since served them notice because we care about their safety but since they refused to vacate the building up till now, we will make sure they do that and then seal it up until proper action is taken on the building,” he said.

“All what we are doing is to prevent any future collapse of this building which could lead to loss of several lives and properties and we are appealing to you people to vacate this building because our concern is your lives. This building, as we can all see, anything can happen to it,” he told the occupants.

An occupant, Pricilla Nwoso, a retiree who lives in one of the flats in the building complained that she does not have another place to go to, adding that she is all alone in Abuja and doesn’t have friends or relatives to run to.

The coordinator, however, pleaded with them to find alternative accommodation before the government could look into their temporary accommodation process.

Another occupant, a retired naval officer, Lanre Ajibola, pleaded with the FCT administration to quickly come to their aid by providing them with alternative accommodation.

And in Bayelsa, the state’s Physical Planning and Development Board has sealed two hotels, three shopping malls and 15 other buildings in Yenagoa metropolis for contravening building regulations of the state.

The move, according to the board, was also part of the state government’s effort to prevent building collapse and consequent loss of live and property.

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Chairman of the board, Mr. Ebi Waribigha, said they were acting on a court order issued by the Physical Planning and Development Tribunal of the state, noting that landlords of the affected properties failed to subject them to technical, safety and integrity tests.

Waribigha, however, explained that in a few weeks’ time, an additional 80 unapproved buildings would be sealed as part of government’s plan to ensure controlled, planned and enhanced physical development of infrastructures across the state.

Some of the affected hotels are Honni Hills and Jubilee Hotels, while the shopping malls include A2Z Plaza, Stop Ova Car Wash and Austrock Mall, all situated in Yenagoa metropolis.

The board chairman said: “After the landlords of the affected buildings failed to respond to our first and second notice seeking to allow us carry out audit of their property, the court graciously gave us an order to seal them up until they comply.

“You hear stories of buildings collapsing on people all the time, as a government we are working hard to ensure that such things don’t befall our people.

“So as part of our mandate to ensure controlled and coordinated development of the state, we constantly carry out audit of existing structures to confirm if they have approval and that the building conforms to the plan that was approved by the state government,” he said.

Source: Daniel Adugbo, Malikatu Umar Shuaibu & Bassey Willie

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