Nigeria: Lagos Building Collapse - Victims' Families Protest Request for Payment Before Treatment

A child being rescued from the scene of a building, which collapsed at Itafaji on the Lagos Island on Wednesday.

Families of survivors of the building that collapsed in Lagos on Wednesday staged a protest at the hospital premises, asking for help to save their surviving children, on Thursday.

The protesters allege that the hospital is asking for as much as N150,000 before commencing comprehensive treatment of the survivors in the hospital's children wards. They said despite being told that treatment will be done and for free too, the Lagos Island General hospital is requesting for money to treat the victims.

The protesters, on sighting the director for search and rescue, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Akube Iyameh, began asking that government should come to their aid and do all they can to keep the survivors alive and forget about the dead for now.

The protest came barely a day after the Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, said the government would take care of the hospital bills of the victims of the building collapse.

According to the most vocal of the protesters, a woman in her late forties who spoke in Yoruba, she said the government should be sensitive to the plight of parents who are battling to save their last surviving child from the disaster.

"Please help these little children in this ward, have mercy on them and their mothers. A woman who had five children as at yesterday is now battling to save her last surviving child. A woman with four children now has two left fighting to stay alive."

"Please help them, release drugs, they need blood and money for treatment. It is heartless to ask a woman who just lost four children to go and start looking for 150,000 to save the life of the last surviving child, please intervene on our behalf. "

Another angry protester who said her friend lost all three of her children in the disaster said it was inhumane to now be asked to make any form of payment either for the release of the bodies or for treatment of survivors.

"The school has a large population, it's a big school. All three of my friend's kids attend the school and she lost all of them. How old are they that we are coming to general hospital to collect their bodies? One woman who has lost four out of five of her children slept here and was given a bill of 150,000 to go and pay to the bank. Is that not heartless? "

Some section of the protesters also expressed their disappointment over the seeming laid back way government is handling buildings that are no longer fit to live.

"This disaster is too much to bear, government should take stricter measures to rid Lagos State of structures that are not fit to live in anymore. All weak structures should be pulled down. "

"Government should visit all schools in the state and close down schools that do not meet the safety standard. Government should stop treating safety issues with kids' gloves. These children are our future and now they are no more. "

The Managing Director of the hospital, however, said the hospital would not request for payment to treat victims of the disaster.

PREMIUM TIMES reported that rescue operation at the building has gotten to ground zero, according to an official.

Although the official casualty is yet to be announced, an official involved in the rescue operation told PREMIUM TIMES 16 people have died while 41 were rescued alive.

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