The collapse of a highrise building, still under construction in lkoyi, a high-brow area in Lagos State, which is inhabited by men and women of affluence in the society is one tragedy too many. The incident, since it occurred on November 1, 2021 has left people talking on how Nigerian lives are wasted just like that, without concrete steps taken by the authorities to forestall such unwarranted sudden deaths in the country. Available records show that about 213 people have lost their lives due to building collapse in Lagos State in the last seven years, with over 145 collapsed buildings in the last 13 years. The sad thing here unfortunately, is that Lagos State, the Centre of Excellence has so far not succeeded in prosecuting anyone for these anomalies.
What this means though is that, all the buildings that came crumbling down so far, were due to natural causes (maybe earthquake), which is non-existent in our clime, and not human error, while the tally continues to increase. The collapse of the 21-storey building in Ikoyi this time, in all intent may have made mockery of the government preparedness in handling emergencies, if victims of a collapsed building in a place like Ikoyi could stay up to five days under the rubbles before being pulled out. Your guess is as good as ours on the number of days it would take the authority in the event of similar occurrence of building collapse in any of the suburbs in Lagos. Again, the issue now goes beyond erecting high-rise buildings all over the place. It also focuses on how prepared the investors in real estate business are, in investing on critical areas, like machines and heavy duty equipment; cranes, forklift etc, capable of lifting heavy concrete and slabs on the site as quickly as possible in the event of emergency like we had recently.
The reason many people died at the Ikoyi building mishap was because help could not reach them on time. Cries and wailings of those who were trapped under the rubbles were heard, according to reports of those who got there immediately the building caved in. This is not the first time nor the second, even as we hope for better handling of emergency situations in all sectors. Taking possession of the crashed site of any building, which is what the law of the state stipulates, is not enough and may not really be what the people want. Instead, government should move in quickly to check quackery in building construction in the state, to forestall incessant building collapse that has become a regular feature. Possessing the site of any collapsed building may not necessarily assuage the feelings of the public nor pacify those that have lost their loved ones because life has no duplicate.
Let us be clear. Buildings can be collapsing like we have here, when those in charge are not doing their works. It is one collapse too many, and when you consider the huge loss in terms of human life and materials, an emergency should be declared in the building construction sector, if at all the government is determined to mitigate what has become an albatross in our society. The tragedy of the Ikoyi building collapse in many ways appear very complex. One can only imagine if the developer of such magnificent building could indulge in the use of fake and substandard materials. The question now is where are the structural engineers, site engineer, the architect that drew the plan, those that approved the plan, and so many other questions on this? The setting up of probe panel by the Lagos State Government to unravel the remote and immediate cause of the collapse and timely too is a welcome development.
On the other hand, we advocate a technical panel, which would involve selected personnel in the building construction and property industries, with ample time given to address myriads of technical issues involved in such a complex tragedy. Often times, government probe panels usually arrive at nothing, and this is why the society, each day continues to wallow in pains of all kinds. While we commiserate with families that lost their loved ones in the unfortunate lkoyi building collapse, we urge the panel already constituted by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to be circumspect and diligent in this onerous assignment to forestall a repeat of this colossal human and material loss that trailed the collapsed Ikoyi building.