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Lagos Identifies Distressed Buildings, Set to Act on Panel Report

Two weeks after it was constituted, the five- man panel set up by the Lagos State Government to investigate the cause of the collapse of building at 63 Massey Street, Ita Faji, Lagos Island has submitted its report with far reaching findings and revelations.

The panel chaired by a former Permanent Secretary in the state, Mr. Wasiu Olokunola, and made up of professionals in the private sector and built environment, was inaugurated by the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr. Rotimi Ogunleye on March 19.

Submitting its findings and recommendations last week, the Chairman, Wasiu Olokunola, an engineer, said forensic tests were conducted during the probe, and it was discovered that the ill-fated building was not two or three-storeyed, but a five-storey building.

Although, he was silent on other findings and recommendations in the panel’s report, during the closed door presentation, The Guardian learnt that some of the recommendations were not too different from the recommendations of the previous tribunal set up to investigate similar building collapse by the last administration.

Sources told The Guardian that perhaps the only difference is that the report was updated with fresh facts using new technology.“The recommendations were basically the same and expressed hope that the government will muster the political will to implement.”

In the previous tribunal chaired by a former chairman of Lagos branch of Nigeria Institute of Architects, Mrs. Abimbola Ajayi, the tribunal said, the building collapse was a result of structural failure, even though not all structural failures result in collapse.

According to the tribunal, the provisions of the laws regulating the building industry were adequate, however, weak implementation by the relevant government agencies, flagrant abuse and deliberate flouting by the public, crass indiscipline and gross corruption by all and sundry rendered the laws ineffective. Till date, the recommendation is till marked secret and no iota of the recommendations has been implemented, the Guardian learnt.

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But sensing the pessimism being expressed by citizens, Ogunleye, who received the report on behalf of the government assured that the report would be studied with a view to implementing its recommendations.He also said the Lagos State Building Control Agency had discovered more distressed buildings across the state, promising that some of them would be pulled down.He stressed that after conducting a non-destructive structural integrity test on the buildings, the ones which could be fixed through structural re-engineering works would be spared.

Ogunleye urged members of the public not to hesitate to notify the state of any suspected weak building in their neighbourhood.

The commissioner, while giving details of the discovered distressed buildings, said that 136 buildings were identified as distressed in Lagos Island division alone, while 60 weak structures were detected in Ikeja division. Ogunleye added that during the enumeration carried out by Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) 33 distressed buildings were uncovered in Badagry division while 29 of such were discovered in Ikorodu division and 25 weak buildings in Epe division.

The commissioner, however, urged owners of such buildings to urgently come for the demolition approval before their structures will cave in.

Bertram Nwannekanma

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