Friday, 23 October 2015

Lagos building collapse: How we escaped death, by survivors

 A three-storey building located at No. 87 Odunfa Street, had collapsed on Wednesday, trapping many occupants.
Alhaja Fatimo Ishola from Buku Chieftancy family of Oshodi, who was one of the occupants is lucky to be alive. But her mother, Alhaja Mistura Hamomodu, the 85-year-old woman who was rescued alongside four others was not so lucky. She died hours after she was rushed to the Lagos Island General Hospital.

According to Alhaja Ishola who disclosed that she was bathing when the incident occurred, the house
had been showing signs of defect, adding that her attention was called to a crack on one side of the wall before it collapsed.
Recalling how she found herself trapped under a pillar, she said that after a neighbour called her attention to the crack, she decided to have a bath and leave the house.

“Just as I made to pick my towel, I heard a loud noise and saw myself going under. Everywhere instantly became dark and I was covered with dust. I couldn’t breathe and I realised I was trapped by a pillar. At a point, I gave up and called to God to save me. It was at that point I remembered that my old mother was asleep when the incident happened.”
She said she was able to crawl out of the rubble while her mother was also rescued alive. But the woman later died at the hospital. Ishola, the only child of the deceased, blamed the death of her mother on negligence on the part of nurses and doctors at the Lagos Island Hospital.

Her words: “When the LASAMBUS left with the victims, we were not allowed to go with them and they didn’t tell us where they were taking her to. We had to search for her in the hospitals on the Island. By the time my husband later located her, she had been abandoned along the corridor. The LASAMBUS officials who took her there just left her to her fate. It was when we got there that the nurses began to make demands on us. We bought injections, drugs, gloves and other things they used to commence treatment. By then, it was already too late. They later didn’t administer the drugs and injections on her even as they refused to return the unused items to us.

“I don’t know where to go from here. The clothes I am wearing now were given to me by a friend. After this, there is nothing to change into tomorrow. My children’s credentials as well as our international passports are all gone. Everything I had are gone,” she lamented.
For Aderonke Agunbiade, who is presently receiving treatment at Ayinke Sanders Memorial Hospital, nothing prepared her for the traumatic experience that unfolded before her that morning. The woman, who has lacerations all over her body and a deep gash on the head, said she was standing on the balcony when the building collapsed.

She disclosed that as she went down with the falling balcony, she blacked out monetarily.
Another survivor, 66-year-old Alhaja Tinu, lived on the second floor. She disclosed that when the incident happened, she jumped and by the time she landed, she was trapped by two giant pillars. She is however, grateful to God for saving her life.
Another survivor recalled that she heard someone shouting to people to come out of the house. “As I stepped out of the house to look at the crack by my room, the building started falling down. I have lost everything I laboured for over the years overnight.”
She also lamented that all her credentials and those of her other siblings were still buried in the rubble of the collapsed building.

Though the cause of the collapse was yet to be ascertained, the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) and the Lagos State Safety Commission have sealed up 15 houses on Odunfa Street.
According to the General Manager of Lagos State Safety Commission, Mr. Fouad Oki, based on observation, the houses are not safe and fit for human habitation. Even though he said that the buildings were not marked for demolition yet, he explained that structural integrity of the buildings needed to be ascertained.

“If the laboratory says they are fine, they would be opened. But if not, residents would be allowed to move their things out and the owners made to pull it down themselves. If they don’t pull it down, the state has its set rules on that and would apply them accordingly. The era of impunity is over in Lagos State. It is either people do what is right or face the full wrath of the law. The measure is not punitive but corrective.”

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