No fewer than seven persons were rescued from the rubble of a seven-story building under construction that collapsed on Wednesday on First Avenue, in the Banana Island area of Ikoyi, Lagos State.
As of the time of filing this report, emergency responders, who stormed the scene for the rescue operation, were said to still be searching for the whereabouts of a victim that had been trapped beneath the rubble of the collapsed structure.
The construction workers were performing their daily tasks in the building that had been under construction for months when it suddenly caved in around 4.58 pm.
It was learned that while some of the workers at the site escaped unhurt with some sustaining varying degrees of injury, some other workers, who were unlucky, got trapped beneath the rubble of the collapsed structure.
In a bid to rescue the trapped victims, some eyewitnesses, including construction workers at the site of adjoining buildings within the premises, raised the alarm and alerted relevant emergency agencies who mobilized to the scene to commence rescue operations.
Speaking with one of our correspondents, an eyewitness, who does not want his name mentioned in print for fear of victimization, said the construction workers were on the sixth floor of the building attempting to lay the seventh floor when the tragedy struck.
He said, “As I speak with you, nobody has been confirmed dead and from the look of things, it is not certain that anybody will die. Only one victim is still trapped under the rubble of the collapsed structure and concerted efforts by emergency responders are ongoing to ensure that the person is rescued alive.
“As the rescue operation is ongoing, the emergency workers are confirming the number of people rescued in line with the registered number of people at the site and also with the involvement of the developers who are on the ground.
“At the site, three buildings were under construction and only one of the three buildings under construction collapsed. The workers were working on the sixth floor and were trying to lay the seventh floor when the building collapsed.”
The two other buildings under construction alongside the collapsed building are still intact but an integrity test would be conducted on the two buildings to prevent another collapse.
However, in a trending video showing moments shortly after the building caved in, eyewitnesses while lamenting over the development, were heard urging people to rush a rescued victim to the hospital for treatment.
The rescued victim, who was seen wailing after surviving the tragedy, said, “I have been going to work but this work is different. I thank God. Nah God I go dey call, I thank God oo.”
Reacting to the development, the General Manager, of Lagos State Fire Service, Margaret Adeseye, said no fewer than seven persons were rescued with varying degrees of injury, adding that one person was still trapped.
Adeseye said, “The seven-story building that collapsed is one out of the three high-rise structures under construction. The other two nine-story are still standing.
“Seven persons were rescued alive with varying degrees of injury, while one person is still trapped as search-and-rescue operations are still ongoing until ground zero is achieved. An investigation has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the collapse.”
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, in a statement posted on its verified Facebook page, said no approval was given for the construction of the collapsed structure.
The ministry’s Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Mukaila Sanusi, in the statement, said an investigation had commenced into the incident.
The statement read, “An unapproved seven-floor building under construction has collapsed in Banana Island, Lagos State, this evening.
“Few who sustained injuries are being treated. There is no fatality. This unfortunate incident happened while casting was being done.
“The Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Tayo Bamgbose-Martins, was immediately on site to assess the situation and flag off the investigation. We ask members of the public to remain calm and expect further information from the ministry as we know more.”
However, the building that collapsed in Banana Island on Wednesday adds to a long list of building collapses recorded in the state in recent times.
On January 19, a story building located at number 12 Aromire Avenue, opposite Dominos Pizza, Ikeja, suddenly collapsed around 6.45 pm, killing one person in the process.
According to documents obtained from the Building Collapse Prevention Guild, Lagos State has recorded a staggering 115 building collapses in the past 10 years. In 2022 alone, the state recorded 20 incidents of building collapse.
Reacting, the pioneer President of the Building Collapse Prevention Guild, Kunle Awobodu, said the guild had commenced its own inquiry to ascertain the cause of the collapse.
He said, “Banana Island has a very high value when it comes to property development in the whole of Nigeria. It is a place where nobody anticipated substandard construction or envisaged substandard construction. This is the climax of the building collapse embarrassment, because of that particular location. That is our concern.”
Also commenting on the development, the Treasurer, of the Nigerian Institute of Builders, Lagos State, Philips Ayotunde, said lack of government oversight was responsible for the continuous building collapse episodes recorded in the state.
Philips said, “The government is not ready to do the right thing. If you say a building does not have approval, and yet, you see them commence work. They get to the first, second, third, fourth, all the way to the seventh floor, for heaven’s sake, a seven-story building will not grow overnight. They have LASBCA officials in every district. What are the officials in that place doing?
“The government cannot exonerate themselves. Where were they when the building was under construction? It is a national shame. I have been getting messages from outside the country for the past hour. This is Banana Island we are talking about. Investors will lose confidence. Both local and international investors will begin to shy away from our real estate sector.”
In his reaction, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said the state government had been doing a lot to curb repeated episodes of building in the state.
He said, “Now, getting approval for a building is easier than it used to be. We have set up divisional offices to ensure that we do not have the concentration of approvals in just one place. We have a committee that is working with experts in the private and government sectors to curb this kind of thing.
“Also, the material testing machinery of the government has been strengthened and more people are being trained to be able to detect problems when people are putting up a building. We are also stepping up advocacy to tell people what to do and what not to do and to tell them not to hire quacks when building.”