Lagos shuts Lekki Gardens, orders occupants to evacuate

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode during an inspection of the site of the collapsed building Lekki Gardens PHOTO: LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode during an inspection of the site of the collapsed building Lekki Gardens PHOTO: LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT

• Ambode directs
integrity test on
other estates
• NSE probes building

Barely 24 hours after firing top officials of its building control agency, the Lagos State government yesterday ordered the closure of Lekki Gardens over the collapse of one of its buildings, that killed 34 people.

During a visit to the site of the collapsed five-storey building yesterday, Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode ordered that the entire estate be evacuated within 14 days, while the site should be completely cordoned off for security reasons.

The governor has also ordered that integrity test be conducted on all estates owned and managed by the Lekki Worldwide Estate Limited across the state, “to prevent them from killing other people.”

Ambode, who commiserated with people who lost their loved ones in the collapse, said he had constituted a five-man committee to examine the Urban and Regional Planning Law of the state as it affects the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA).

The committee, headed by Dr. Moses Olubunmi Ajayi, a past President of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners and Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria, will also examine the operations of LASBCA and make recommendations for changes that will ensure effective service delivery.

The committee will, within four weeks, recommend restructuring of the organisation and appropriate manpower for effective operation of LASBCA. It will study the legal and operational issues affecting the functioning of the Materials Testing Laboratory.

Other members of the committee are: the President of the Nigerian Institute of Structural Engineers, Ore Fadayomi; Yetunde Ajayi; general manager of Lagos State Planning Authority (LASSPA) and secretary of LASBCA as secretary of the committee.

Ambode said: “In the meantime, the state government will undertake a stability test on all other buildings constructed by the developer in the state, whether occupied or not, to ascertain their structural stability.

“The developer will pay the cost of the tests. Any building found to be defective would be demolished. For those that pass the integrity test, the developer will pay a penalty for any overdevelopment on the site.”

According to him, the government intends to carry out an audit of all structures in Lagos to ascertain those with planning approval or not and evaluate the physical development against the approved building plans. The details of this initiative are being worked out.

Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Wasiu Anifowoshe, on the train of the governor, told reporters that integrity test was set to be carried out on all the Lekki Gardens buildings to assess their strengths.

It was observed that several of the buildings that have been completed and are being occupied by families have been marked ‘seal’ by LASBCA.

Anifowoshe said that it was expedient for occupants to immediately leave the houses “in their own interest.” “From the look of things, there are problems with these houses. If I were the occupants, I would have left yesterday. The developer actually has the approval of three floors per building, which he initially did. But he later removed the roofs, you can see the rafters, and started adding two new floors to each building. Police are on top of the situation and we all will see it to the end. People leaving here have to immediately leave till all investigations have been completed,” Anifowoshe said.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) has raised a failure analysis committee to determine the extent of involvement of engineers in the ill-fated building.

The President of NSE, Otis Anyaeji, who disclosed this in Abuja yesterday on the sidelines of the group’s stakeholders workshop on sustainable development goals, said the NSE was expecting a report from the committee very soon.

“We have already raised a committee to probe the extent of the involvement of engineers in the collapsed building. We have a failure analysis committee that has already swung to work as soon as the incident happened. We are expecting a report from them soonest.”

While restraining from blaming any particular professional for the collapse of the building, Anyaeji explained that failures were caused by different factors, which could be design, construction or materials.To this end, he hinted that the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) was now working on regulating the activities of the sellers of building materials.

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