• Over 300 People Rendered Homeless After Building Collapsed In Mushin
A three-storey building collapsed in Mushin after the downpour on Tuesday. Some of the survivors recount their ordeal and seek help.
“I WAS feeding my daughter, Ayomide, rice. It was raining. Suddenly came heavy thunder, I heard a strange noise at the backyard. I thought our neighbours were fighting again. Just then, the house came down —- within three seconds … a heavy block hit my baby on the head. Blood started gushing out of Ayomide’s forehead, my two legs were trapped. My baby cried for a few seconds then Ayomide went silent, and her eyes closed…”
So recounted Emmanuella Francis, a survivor of the three-storey building that collapsed on No 353, Agege Motor Road, Mushin, Lagos on Tuesday. She spoke as she lay critically ill at Calvary Hospital, Sliver Street, Mushin.
Ayomide, her one-year-old daughter was the only fatality.
Other survivors are scattered all over the neighbourhood with their children and relations. One of the survivors, Tina Duru sat on a sofa in the corridor of a neigbouring house. Her son, Onyedika was crying and she tried to pacify him with a suckle. But the boy refused his mothers’ breast. It seemed all he wanted was a place to lie down and sleep.
His elder brother, two-year-old Chibuzor, is in the hospital, receiving treatment for the bruises he sustained in the collapsed building.
Tina had gone to the church with Onyedika when the building collapsed.
They packed into the house two months ago. Her husband, Uchenna, a trader had earlier paid an agent who disappeared with the money. “Our landlord asked us to pay another money. We paid another rent last month for one year,” she said.
The location of the collapsed building was a major challenge for the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and other rescue agencies in the state. It is difficult to access, sandwiched as it is, between three other defective buildings marked for demolition.
Another of the survivors, Justina Adikuru, could only think of how to get her documents out of the rubbles.
“Since yesterday (Tuesday) we have been expecting them to do something for us to get our property out of the debris. My certificate and other documents trapped there are very important to me. My money, N11,800 is also in the rubbles,” she lamented, adding that her siblings and parents are squatting with friends and relations.
Adikuru received the distress call not quite long after the building collapsed.
“I had to rush down to the house. My elder sister, Emmanuella was badly injured. She is at Calvary Hospital. Her leg is broken and she lost her daughter, Ayomide,” she said. She recalled that her sister called her from the hospital asking about the condition of her baby. “I lied to her that her baby is fine,” she said.
Another victim, Taiye Tunde, a widow from Ondo State was also rendered homeless. “My husband is dead. I have been managing with my four children in one of my relations’ house,” she said.
Nojeem Bello, a member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Yaba disclosed that he was called around 3 O’clock on Tuesday that the building had collapsed. “When we got here, my friend told me that they were able to rescue my sister-in-law and her baby.” he said.
Bello, has been living in the collapsed building for the past eight years. “The house is owned by the late Baba Jebba. The house is over 50-year-old. If the tenants had not been maintaining the house with their money, it would have collapsed long time ago,” he said.
Sola Odumosu regretted that her sister had just renewed her house rent. “She paid N2,500 per month,” she said
Another distraught victim, Bola Saheed, a caterer, recalled how one of her children, Saki called her that she should come back home after the house collapsed. “By the time I came home there was nothing to salvage from the rubbles. When I first came here, it was N1,000 per room, the house rent was later increased to N1,500 before I was given a quit notice six months ago by the landlord,” she revealed.
Unfortunately for her, the N50,000 she kept in the house to look for another accommodation is now under the rubbles. “Let the government help us. We have no place to go. I was living in the house with my daughter, Saki. I don’t know where I will sleep today (Wednesday),” she said.
Bimpe Bello said the house was too old and the owner had not been taking care of the house.
Three other buildings in the neighbourhood owned by the same person are now to be demolished. The residents have been given quit notices. One of the victims, Blessing Okafor (from Imo State), has pitched her tent (with her baby) in front of the house since the incident: “Where do they want us to go? We knew that there was danger ahead. My husband, Sunday complained and the landlord’s son said ‘no problem’.”
“To get a house now is a lot of money. If I go to the village now there is no money for me to feed. I prefer to manage in Lagos,” she said amidst tears.
One of the good Samaritans who came to the rescue of the victims, Michael Segun, said that apart from the Mosque that collapsed in Buhari Street, six years ago, they have not experienced any major collapse in Mushin.
“The house that collapsed and other houses around it are weak. This is due to poor maintenance. Look at the environment of the house. Waste water is not flowing. It is just stagnant.
“The problem is that nobody wants to live in Ifo or Sango (Lagos suburbs) anymore. This is due to poor road network. If the road network had been good, instead of living in a house like this, people will prefer to go to Sango to look for accommodation. Over 300 people are now rendered homeless after the building collapsed,” he said.
He urged the government to build low-cost houses in places like Badagry and Epe for the poor to buy.
Sub-Lieutenant Okunola Ebenezer of Nigerian Marine linked the collapse to the fact that the house was old and lacked of maintenance.
“Lack of proper drainage facility affected the foundation of the house,” he said. He urged the Lagos State Raw Materials Testing Agency to do the integrity tests of similar dilapidated buildings around the state. “Let people report cases of dilapidated structures to relevant government agencies,” he said.
Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning, Olutoyin Ayinde, explained why the building collapsed:
“The house cannot be less than 25 years old. You see the structure was already very weak. The environment was waterlogged. But people have continued to live in such houses that are not fit for habitation,” he said.
He listed other factors that can cause buildings to collapse:
“People like to use any type of water to mix their concrete. But Lagos is very close to the sea and has salt water… eventually, the salt content is going to weaken the cement. Sooner or later the wall will begin to crack. Which we see in most of the buildings,” he said.
The commissioner said that the Lagos State government is now demolishing dilapidated structures and replacing them with new ones.
“We should not rely on government effort alone. The private sector should partner with the government and everyone of us has to participate,” he said.
He warned that poverty is not a good reason for people to endanger themselves in a dilapidated structure.
“How do you define poverty? It starts first in the mind. It is about defining for yourself under which situation you will not live. It is not about cash. Poverty starts from the mind,” he said.
He explained that people are fond of risking their lives in dilapidated buildings. “A building is about to collapse and you see people asking where will they go? If the building collapses on you and you are dead, there is only one place that you will go: under the earth. Would you rather go under the earth or you move out and look for somewhere else to stay? Man is a surviving animal. We will always find where to stay.
He continued:” There is no place in the world where government alone provides accommodation for the people. Two, we must live within our own means. What government is doing in Lagos State is to provide affordable accommodation for people. Getting a mortgage in place so that people can buy those houses and then pay gradually for about ten to twenty-five years and owned them.”