Panic over order to evacuate Lekki Gardens Estate
• Developer to provide alternative for occupants, says government
These was panic yesterday among occupants of the Lekki Gardens Estate following the order by Lagos state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode that occupants in all houses that had been built by Lekki Gardens, the developers, vacate their apartments.
The governor, who visited the site of the collapsed five-storey building, where 35 people were killed, ordered integrity tests to be carried out on the buildings to ascertain their fitness.
Ambode who spoke at the Lagos House, Ikeja, shortly after his inspection of the site and other buildings owned by Lekki Gardens, said he was displeased with what he saw.
Based on the governor’s order, many of the occupants, especially those outside the vicinity of the collapsed building were uncertain of what would be their fate if the order was not rescind.
However, a clarification by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Habib Haruna provided a reprieve.According to Haruna, the order only affected occupants within the area of the collapsed building, stating that those affected by the order will be provided with alternative accommodations by the developer.
The governor, he said, had made it clear on Tuesday that Lekki Gardens would take the responsibility for the relocation of occupants of the buildings.
Also the Lagos State government yesterday inaugurated a committee to restructure the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LSBCA).
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode inaugurated the committee at the Lagos House, Ikeja, two days after he fired the General Manager of the Lagos State Building Control Agency, Olushola Adeigbe, and three other officials of the agency for negligence.
The committee on restructuring of the state building control agency is chaired by Dr. Bunmi Ajayi. Mrs. Lape Kilanko was appointed Secretary, while Messrs Oreoluwa Fadayomi and Yetunde Ajayi are members of the committee.
Meanwhile, experts in the building sector have commended Governor Ambode for taking a proactive measure to forestall future occurrence, especially, based on the fact that Lekki Garden City was said to have built on “not well favourable location”.
The President, Building Collapse Preventive Guild (BCPG), Mr. Kunle Awobodu, who is a builder commended the move to carry out integrity test, but quickly added whether it is possible to get all the buildings done.
According to Awobodu, some of the houses are pile foundation, “so to get to the foundation level is a short period of time is just my concern, because integrity test normally could be done within the space of two weeks by which those that pass the test can be occupied by the tenants”.
However, one of the affected property owners, who responded to The Guardian’s enquiry said that if government insisted that they should move out, alternative accommodation must be provided, either by the government or Lekki Gardens.
“In the first instance, we bought these houses and we are not an expert that could determine whether they meet integrity test or not, what happened here is nothing but failure of leadership. Therefore we should not be made the scapegoat”.
Also a Chartered Builder and member, United Kingdom Chartered Institute of Building, Adekunle Onabekun, has called for the passage of National Building Code to become law of the federation.
The building expert also urged the Minister for Housing to form or create emergency committees of sound professionals in the built environment to do a feasibility study on infrastructural development on high-rise buildings in Nigeria nationwide within the period of 90 to 120 days.
Onabekun, who noted that Nigeria is on a timing bomb on infrastructural development-building collapse, said there is also need for the creation of construction board like done in other advance nations as well as adequate enforcement and monitoring by Regulatory Councils and their Institutes to check incessant building collapse in Nigeria.