Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has decried the tragic building collapse in Ikoyi which has so far claimed 21 lives, saying “mistakes were made from all angles”.
The governor spoke about the tragedy on Wednesday when he visited the site of the building collapse where emergency workers remain engaged in a rescue operation.
“This is an event that could be described clearly as a national disaster. Mistakes were made from all angles,” the governor said, adding that such an event “really should not be happening in a modern-day city like Lagos.”
The governor who extended his condolences to the families and people whose loved ones were affected by the tragedy also announced members of a panel of inquiry to probe the collapse.
He promised that those found culpable will be made to face the law.
Amid questions over what led to yet another building collapse in Lagos, the governor suspended the General Manager of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), Gbolahan Oki, indefinitely on Tuesday.
He explained that the suspension was just a first step in the quest to hold those responsible to account.
“We will say that we had to take from the head; from the leadership of that agency,” he said on Wednesday. “And you can rest assured that if they are other people that are found in the course of the investigation, they will face the full wrath of the law.”
Asked if there were violations of the National Building Code in the construction, the governor answered in the affirmative.
“I will not have the details but from preliminary investigation, yes, there would be violations. The simple thing such as not having a manifest on site is a violation of the law in itself. So, there are several violations that would have happened here.”
Highlighting the importance of having a manifest at a construction site, the governor explained how it has affected the rescue operation.
“Unfortunately, what we have seen in the last 48 hours is that we do not have the manifest of everybody that was on site which is against the law,” he said. “On a daily basis, you are meant to have a manifest of everybody that is working in a construction (site). There is no manifest.”
“And unfortunately too, it’s also been very difficult for us to identify or for anybody to come forward as, maybe a project manager or a staff of the developer or contractor.”
Consequently, the government and emergency workers have been “without having full information” about the construction company’s mode of operation.
“That is why we do not know what numbers we are dealing with, or what the mix (of workers) is, or what work they are doing there,” Governor Sanwo-Olu said.
“What we do know, as we speak now, is that we’ve been able to rescue nine individuals. Six of them are still in the hospital… So, we have all their names, their telephone numbers, their pictures and everything; and three that have been discharged for minor injuries.
“Unfortunately, we have 21 confirmed mortality meaning people that have been taken out from this site and taken to the morgue”.
It was a tragic day for family members whose loved ones had left home for the site for one business or the other. In a situation like this, the victims are likely to be engineers, construction workers, and hawkers who sell food and other items to workers at building sites.
The 21-storey building which was under construction and located along Gerrard Road collapsed on Monday afternoon.
Since the incident, the Deputy Governor of Lagos, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, has visited the site at least twice.
Amid concerns that Governor Sanwo-Olu did not visit the site the day the building collapsed, he explained that he was out of the country at the time.
“I think it’s important for me to let you know where I have been in the last one-and-a-half days,” he said. “I actually travelled out of Nigeria in the early morning of Sunday. I had to travel to Rome to attend the G20 Summit in Rome.
“There was a side conference by the European Commission for African and Asia and I was invited to a speaking engagement and so we had engagement throughout Sunday night and also on Monday.
“Unfortunately, I was actually on the rostrum speaking on Monday when I got a call of what had happened here in Lagos, and I had to turn back because I was also due to go to the COP26 Climate Change Conference where I had a speaking engagement but we had to terminate and truncate that and made a turnaround back to Lagos.”