Another major disaster was averted on Monday at Ifako-Ijaiye area of Lagos State after occupants and property were evacuated from a distressed three-storey building at No 3 Ajayi Road, Ogba Aguda which vibrated alarmingly following a heavy rainfall at the weekend. The development which spelt a danger sign of the building’s imminent collapse created panic among residents in the area.
This came two weeks after a Dana Air plane with 153 passengers crashed at Iju-Ishaga, killing all onboard in the same Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Area. Save for the quick and immediate response from the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, many residents would have died in the possible collapse of the building.
When Vanguard Metro, VM, visited the emergency alert site, the occupants of the building, said to have been constructed over 30 years ago, were seen hurriedly packing their belongings amidst tight security to avoid any looting.
It was gathered that the situation was occasioned by last Sunday's heavy rainfall in the area which shook the foundation of the submerged building.
One of the residents at the area, Mr. Wale, who spoke with VM, said they had earlier complained severally to the landlord through the caretaker on the need to carryout rehabilitation work on the building without any positive response.
*The distressed building...cordoned off to safeguard lives and property
However, the property owner was unavailable for comment as at press time but the caretaker of the house who did not mention his name, conceded that the building was indeed in bad shape, saying it was this realisation that informed his decision to advise all the occupants to vacate the place.
Speaking with newsmen at the site, General Manager of LASEMA, Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, observed that the property, consisting of a three storey and another adjoining two-storey building behind, has over ten blocks of flats in all with hundreds of occupants, had submerged with cracks all over it, an indication that it could suddenly come down anytime.
According to him, the agency received a distress call around 3.30 p.m. on the fateful day and immediately activated emergency response to the site to secure the lives and belongings of all the occupants of the building.
Osanyintolu, further stressed that the occupants were immediately evacuated along with their personal effects, while the whole building was also isolated from electricity to make the place safe and secure. "The sign here shows that the building is distressed and there is need to secure the lives and properties of our people," he said.
He said that his agency is on ground with other stakeholders in the management of emergency situations, saying the first operation is to ensure safety, adding that " the building as you can see has been condoned off, while it will be pulled down soonest to avert any kind of disaster in the state".
The General Manager, therefore, advised Lagos residents to collaborate with all the agencies of the state government to safeguard their lives and properties by giving them prompt information that are important for the management of emergencies in the state.
Also at the site to collaborate with LASEMA, Mr. Shola Abel Famakin, Managing Consultant, Lagos State Material Testing Laboratory, said that going through their records, the building sometime in 2008/2009 had been served with notice of integrity test.
According to him: "Physical appearance has shown that the building is going down already, looking at the foundation which is already submerged. So any vibration or storm would definitely bring the building down; hence, the people must vacate immediately".