LASG vows to prosecute developer of collapsed building

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By Owoleye Oluwakayode

The Lagos State Government has promised to prosecute the missing developer, identified as Fumble, who was alleged to be in charge of the three-story structure that collapsed on Alayaki Lane, Freeman Street, Lagos Island, killing four laborers.

According to reports the developer went into hiding after the building collapsed, injuring five workers who were rescued alive from the rubble on Saturday.

Gbenga Omotoso, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, said the developer would face trial for his actions, adding that the collapsed building was not approved.

He said, “The law on building is very clear; you cannot build without approval. That building was not approved, they asked the builders to stop building but they refused to stop and started building at night and weekends.

“It is high time we took responsibility for our actions; and for people who waste other people’s lives like this, the law is very clear, the state government will take over the building and the builder will be prosecuted.

“I can assure you that all of the people responsible for this will face the law. The long arm of the law will catch up with this guy (developer). He cannot commit a terrible crime and run away. The government will find him and he will face the consequences of his action.”

Our correspondent learnt that labourers were working on the building when it suddenly collapsed and trapped them beneath the rubble.

Emergency responders including the National Emergency Management Agency; Lagos State Emergency Management Agency; Lagos State Fire and Rescue Services; men of the Nigerian Police Force, officials of the Nigeria Red Cross, among others, stormed the scene to commence rescue operation.

In his reaction, the Coordinator, NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye, said four persons were recovered dead.

He said, “Four (persons) recovered dead and five rescued alive. The collapsed building under construction was located within a compound and it was a frame structure as at the time of the unfortunate collapse.

“The third suspended slab concrete was already in place with an ongoing internal partition. The building crumbled during a downpour around 1.45pm.”

Our correspondent learnt that the compound where the collapsed building was situated was owned by a yet-to-be-identified man in the state.

After the man died, structures on the compound were reportedly divided among his wives.

A member of the family, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said after the structures were divided, the developer was contacted to develop the building.

The source said, “The developer is not among the victims; his workers were the ones working on the building when it collapsed. He was not there. I am also aware that the state government has issued a stop work order on the building.”

The building was said to be a bungalow that the developer converted to a three-storey building.

“But LABSCA issued a stop work order and sealed the place. The seal was still there yesterday and instead of the developer abiding by the seal, he mobilised laborers to start moving equipment and other materials through Freeman Street to continue the construction,” another source said

In a follow-up reaction, Farinloye said, “The building was bequeathed to the family members and some awarded it to a developer who was converting the bungalow building into a three-storey building before it collapsed. It was revealed by the family members that LABSCA had sealed the site earlier.”

The Permanent Secretary, LASEMA, Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, also confirmed the incident, saying five people were rescued alive and three corpses recovered.

“However, you will discover that that disaster is a man-made disaster, it is a disaster that is avoidable because the government has done the needful. Undesirable developers decided to work against the good people of the state by doing construction at the time that it is not properly monitored.

“The developer was doing the development of the building at night and weekends. The LASBCA has marked, issued a stop work order and subjected the building for integrity tests. But the developer flouted the order.

“The physical planning is looking into the aspect of the developer; we are going to conduct a holistic investigation into this. The building was developed from a bungalow into a four-storey building,” Oke-Osanyintolu said.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, said, “We have no suspect yet; four people dead and five hospitalised and the DC Operations has also visited the scene of the building collapse. The command is investigating the incident.