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16 Mar 2019

Story Of Black Wednesday In Lagos

Even by the admission of Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, the building had been marked twice for demolition, but was somehow still left standing. That is, till Wednesday March 13, 2019 when the building collapsed, killing 20 persons, mostly pupils.

When Ambode visited the 63 Massey Street site on Wednesday March 13, 2019, he must have been pricked by the adage that procrastination wasn’t only the thief of time, it could steal lives. It has been anguish since the morning of the Wednesday when the three-storey building that housed a school, residents and shops collapsed.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the school had an estimated population of 170 pupils, most of them in class with their teachers at the time of the incident.

Parents, relations and neighbours thronged the scene, searching for their wards, trapped in the rubble. Even onlookers and parents whose children were not affected by the tragedy could not hold back tears.

A shop-owner close to the scene, Islat Opeyemi, told our correspondents she was in front of her shop chatting with a little girl when she heard a loud sound. “Before now, we all knew the building was weak and even government officials had come to check and mark it for demolition. If government had done the needful, this ugly incident wouldn’t have occurred,” Opeyemi said.

Abdulfatah Ayoola, the father of one of the pupils, Fawad, who died in the collapsed building, narrated what his son told him before he went to school that fateful Wednesday morning. “It was quite unusual, as if he knew something was going to happen to him and he asked me to pray for him.

I don’t think I can sleep at night for a long time. My late son and I did almost everything together; we ate together, prayed together, spent time discussing. I was introducing him to life because he was my eldest child.
“I visited King’s College not too long and liked the atmosphere. I was assured that an interview date will be communicated to me soon but now I can’t take him there anymore because Fawad is gone,” the father said, adding that the boy had been buried at the Ikoyi Cemetery in accordance with Islamic rites.

Mrs. Adedayo Adedoyin who had four children – Malik, Fawas, Taiwo and Kehinde – in the school, said she was feeling a little apprehensive when her children were leaving the house that morning for school. According to her, it suddenly began to rain but she pushed herself off the bed so that she could prepare them for school.

“I had a premonition that something bad was going to happen but could not be sure. I had to let go of the bad feelings and just decided to be positive,” she added.
The woman lamented that while Kehinde survived the accident, her three siblings were not lucky as they were already dead before rescuers retrieved their bodies from under the debris. Kehinde herself came out of the tragedy with a broken leg.

Mrs. Adedoyin wept profusely as she told our correspondents that Thursday, March 14, 2019 would have been the 10th birthday anniversary of Malik, the eldest of the children.

A son to the landlord of the building, Erinoluwa Akinmoladun, was reported to have alerted his father early on the fateful day about how weak the building was and its possibility of collapsing soon.

According to him, the construction of the building was completed in 2010 by a developer, who was supposed to manage it for 10 years. Akinmoladun, whose family members were also victims of the tragedy, said his father has been rescued but was not sure if all his siblings have been pulled out from the debris.

Parents of those who survived the incident confirmed that their wards were in stable condition and are beginning to recover from the trauma. They were seen sitting in a roll on one of the benches provided for them by the hospital authority.

One mother said she heard of the news of the collapsed house from a neighbour and rushed to the scene. “I almost urinated on myself when I saw the house,” she said.
The Lagos State government has confirmed that a total of 20 people died in the incident. A statement yesterday by the Director Public Affairs of the Lagos State Ministry of Health, Adeola Salako, quoted the Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, as saying that out of the 20 deaths recorded, 16 were pupils of the school, while the remaining four were adults. Other victims rescued by emergency workers were taken to different hospitals in Lagos for medical attention.

The Director Search and Rescue of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Air Commodore Akugbe Iyamu, also visited the Mainland General Hospital to commiserate with the victims, their families and the state government. He assured the relations of the victims that the federal government was working with the Lagos State officials to examine ways NEMA could be of further assistance to the victims.

Names of the patients in stable condition had since been pasted at the General Hospital on Wednesday for easy identification of the victims by their relatives.

The Medical Director General Hospital Lagos, Dr Ismail Ganikale, told newsmen that no new victim of the building collapse had been brought to the hospital.

Also, the Chairman Lagos Chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Saliu Oseni, said that the association had been going round the hospitals to monitor the treatment of the victims.

Gov Ambode has already commenced matching his resolve to demolish buildings that had failed integrity tests with action. The governor had said on Wednesday after visiting the scene, “I got information that most of the buildings in the area had been marked for demolition, but that some property owners in the area defied such notices. Going forward, structural defective buildings will be demolished.

“We will investigate what has happened and also see the punishment for whoever are the culprits. That is the secondary level. The most important thing right now is to save lives and I appeal to people to give us the chance to save more lives.”

Even before constituting an investigation panel, bulldozers have already moved into action yesterday on Lagos Island demolishing buildings adjudged as distressed.

A total of about 150 distressed buildings had been identified on Lagos Island, out of which 30 had been demolished in the last one year.

Officials of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) and policemen resumed the demolition job yesterday morning at about 10am, with the demolition of the building at N0. 60 Freeman Street.

The agency’s Acting General Manager, Omotayo Fakoluju, told newsmen that the owner of the building had sought to stop the demolition of the building in court, but lost the case to government, hence the demolition exercise.

Fakoluju, who said three buildings would be demolished today at Freeman, Massey and Smith streets, disclosed that Ambode had given the agency the go-ahead to demolish 80 buildings on Lagos Island before the end of this month.

Twenty of the 80 buildings earmarked for demolition were said to be on Adeniji Adele Street alone.

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