The Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Tuesday directed that stability test be conducted on all buildings constructed by Lekki Gardens to ascertain their structural integrity. Abode said any of the buildings found to be defective would be demolished.
The governor, who addressed Government House Correspondents at the Lagos House, Ikeja, shortly after inspecting the site of the collapsed building which was being built by Lekki Gardens, described the incident, which claimed 34 lives and left several others injured, as “one building collapse too many”.
He said since the unfortunate incident, the state government has taken several steps to stem the tide of building collapse, adding that his administration is determined not to fail in the responsibility of ensuring the safety of lives and property of its citizens.
He said: “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 will be demolished. For those that pass the integrity test, the developer will pay a penalty for any overdevelopment on the site.”
Governor Ambode, who commiserated with those who suffered loss and injury as a result of the building collapse, said since the incident, the state government has ordered the immediate sealing off of the construction site and cessation of further construction, co-ordinated emergency rescue of all injured victims and treatment at its hospitals, prosecution of owners of the collapsed building as well as dismissal of some government officials.
He said the government, going forward, would carry out an audit of all structures in the state to ascertain those with planning approval or not and evaluate the physical development against the approved building plans, adding that details of the plan would be made public soon.
He said: “I want to assure you that there will no longer be any sacred cows. If there is failure of duty, there will be sanctions. I also want to seize this opportunity to assure Lagosians that the State Government will do everything within its powers to check the excesses of Developers who flout its regulations and will restore efficiency and confidence in the building control and supervision process.”
The governor revealed that a five-man committee to examine the Urban and Regional Planning Law of the State as it affects the Lagos State Building Control Agency has been set up.
The Committee is to be chaired by Dr. Moses Olubunmi Ajayi, a past President of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) and Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN); while members are Engineer Ore Fadayomi, the President of the Nigerian Institute of Structural Engineers (NIStructE); Architect Yetunde O. Ajayi, a retired Permanent Secretary; the General Manager of Lagos State Planning Authority and Secretary of Lagos State Building Control Agency as Secretary of the Committee.
Ambode also charged the committee to examine the operations of LASBCA and make recommendations for changes that will ensure effective service delivery, recommend organizational re-structure and appropriate manpower for effective operation of LASBCA, study the legal and operational issues affecting the functioning of the Materials Testing Laboratory and other matters that will enhance the efficient functioning of the two organisations.
He gave the committee four weeks to submit its report.
He added: “Finally, let me reiterate that Lagos is open to business for those who must comply with the State laws and regulations in order to prosper. Our main concern is to continue to improve on the ease of doing business and uphold the Rule of Law at all times. Those who choose non-compliance and defiance will henceforth face the full weight of the law without fear or favour.”
Speaking to journalists at the site of the collapsed building, the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Wasiu Anifowose, said Governor Ambode and his team were at the site to personally examine the level of damage and determine how best to prevent a reoccurrence going forward.
Anifowose disclosed that integrity test would be conducted on all the structures erected by Lekki Gardens in the area and advised occupiers of other structures constructed by Lekki Gardens to vacate the buildings immediately.
Anifowose said the site of the collapsed structure had been condoned off and that government would take appropriate steps after the conclusion of investigation by the police.
He said: “In the best interest of the occupiers of the other structures, their lives are very important to us as a government and we are appealing to them to vacate the buildings immediately until investigations are completed. The gentleman behind Lekki Gardens got approval for ground, first, second and third floors, but after doing the roofing, he removed it and added additional two floors, which caused the building to collapse. So, we have to carry out integrity test on the other structures and the cost implication for present occupiers of the other structures to vacate the buildings would be borne by the developer.”