Following the demolition of some distressed buildings on the Lagos Island by the Lagos State Government, a resident, Mr Femi Oshibodu, has lamented that the action has dispersed his family.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode order the Lagos State Building Control Agency to demolish some distressed buildings in Lagos Island which begun on Friday .
The government’s action followed the collapse of a three-storey building in the Ita Faaji area of the Lagos Island on Wednesday, which killed 20 people.
Lagos State Building Control Agency had in the last three days demolished about 13 defective houses in the area.
Buildings that have been demolished are those on 60A Freeman Street; 47 Smith Street; 16 and 28 Apatira Street; 39 Alli Street; 45 John Street; 16 Egerton Street; 27 Inabiri Street; 28 Elegbata Street, Apongbon; 199 Tokunbo Street; 21 Okediji Street; 34 Seriki Street; and 33 Ojo Giwa Street.
Oshibodu, who lived at 60A Freeman Street, Epetedo, said the demolition of the building had rendered him and members of his family homeless, such that they had to distribute themselves to friends and relatives in order to survive.
He pleaded for government’s intervention to bail him out of his predicament.
He said, “Myself and my wife have been sleeping outside the demolished building but we had to take the kids to extended family members around. If things continue like this, my family will have to split. As it is now, it’s our extended family members who brought food for us.
“We don’t know what the government wants to do for us. We are still waiting to see what’s going to happen. We learnt that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu arranged for some people to write down their names with the promise that he would give them a place as well as food and money. It has not got to us but I want to speak with the woman leader of my area, probably I can get help from Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
“We never expected something like this and we did not have any savings for a time like this. What happened was not our fault; we would have loved it if they had given us more time to prepare. I still owe about three months’ rent on the demolished building, how do they expect me to get the money for a new apartment?”
Another affected resident, simply identified as Segun, who lived on 39 Alli Street, Ita Faaji, said the government should have made better provision for them before they were told to evacuate the buildings.
He stated, “The government needs to be proactive. They cannot tell us to just evacuate our houses without any provision. It is totally unfair. We just paid our rent last week Sunday. Our votes are what put them there; they should not treat us like animals.
“If we are truly practising democracy, the government should have called a meeting of the affected residents before making such a decision. Me, my wife and children as well as my mother and brother, where do they want us to live? If one wants to rent an apartment now, they will ask that one should pay for two years in addition to the agreement and commission in these hard times.”
Another resident, Mutiat Muyideen, asked the government to make low-cost housing available to the masses.
She said, “Since the developers are not meeting up with the regulations of the government, the government should make low-cost housing available that will not inconvenience us. During the era of Alhaji Lateef Jakande, he built low-cost estates. But afterwards, houses built by the government have been for the rich.
“I lived in an apartment with my sibling and we do not know where else to go. I’ve been sleeping at my friend’s place because I do not have money for another rent. Though the action of the government is commendable, the notice was, however, too short.”
The Secretary, LASBCA, Mr Tayo Fakolujo, said the agency would demolish over 150 defective buildings in the coming weeks, adding that about 30 had been demolished in the last one year.
He added that the buildings would be brought down in phases, some mechanically and others manually.
“For buildings that are still occupied, we are going to evict the occupants to avoid disaster, because their lives are important to us,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the state government has taken over the land where Wednesday’s building collapse occurred.
A signpost that was placed on the plot on Friday evening, read, “The general public is hereby notified that the Lagos State Government has sealed off this property and has commenced the process of its forfeiture.
“The owner and the developer of number 14 Massey Street, Ita Faaji (off the Ita Faaji Market) are hereby invited to report immediately to the office of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development.”
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mrs Boladele Dapo-Thomas, said the entire state would be sanitised and rid of distressed and dilapidated buildings.
However, an advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has called for investigations into the circumstances surrounding the separate collapsed buildings in Lagos and Oyo states last week and the payment of adequate compensation to the families of the victims.
While expressing concern about the frequency of building collapse in the country, SERAP said the two states should take immediate steps to investigate the latest incidents with a view to bringing to justice complicit developers and contractors.
It also urged the states to publicly apologise to the victims, their families and Nigerians, and to provide the affected families with immediate remedies.
In a statement on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oludare, SERAP said it was ready to offer free legal services to the affected families so as “to ensure that justice is not only done, but also seen to be done in these cases.”
It said, “These tragedies point to weak enforcement of building regulations and oversight by the two states, and the urgent need for effective action and reforms.
“SERAP is concerned that the responses so far by the governments of Lagos and Oyo states have been insufficient to deal with the massive extent of the human costs of the incidents.
“The Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode, and Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, should ensure, as a matter of priority, access of the victims and their families to effective remedies in a transparent manner; specifically, access to justice, adequate compensation, reparation and guarantees that incidents like these can never happen again.
“The governments should have done more to prevent them from happening. The governors should act decisively on their commitments to do everything in their powers to prevent more such tragedies and to bring to justice those responsible in order to serve as a deterrent and end the negligence at which many are carrying out their duties.”