Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Wednesday visited the scene of a three-storey building which collapsed in Ita Faaji area of Lagos Island, where he commiserated with families of victims who lost their lives, most of whom are children.
The three-storey residential building, located at No 14, Massey Street, Opposite Oja, Ita-Faaji, housing a primary school on its pent house, caved in at about 10am on Wednesday morning trapping scores of pupils of the school in the process.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Habib Aruna, said Governor Ambode, who got to the scene of the incident at about 2:42pm, described the incident as unfortunate, however, appealing to residents to allow rescue operators the space to carry out their operations without any hindrance, so as to rescue more children still trapped under the rubble.
“I want to commiserate with the families of those that lost their lives in this collapsed building. I want to quickly let Lagosians know that this is quite an unfortunate incident. All we are trying to do is to scale up this rescue operation. Our response units are already here; we are getting additional cranes to be able to go deeper than where we are now to rescue more lives.
“I just want to appeal to people that when we are doing this kind of rescue operation, yes, sympathisers will naturally come but I want to appeal that they should give the rescue workers the chance to save more lives,” he said.
The Governor said his Deputy, Dr. Mrs. Oluranti Adebule, had also visited the hospitals where some of the victims rescued had been taken, assuring that the State Government would immediately take over their treatment and foot their entire bill.
“The Deputy Governor is in the hospital actually taking care of those that were rescued and taken to the hospital most especially the children. On the part of government, we would immediately take care of whatever it is that we can do, including the hospital bills.
“All we are interested in now is to save more lives and also see how those that have been rescued are put in proper place and proper care,” he said.
Giving a brief of the situation, the Governor said he had received information that the building was a residential one, with the school operating illegally within the premises, adding that about two floors of the building sunk to the ground.
He said most of the buildings in the area had been marked for demolition, but that some property owners in the area defy such notices, assuring that going forward, structural defective buildings would be demolished.
“The first observation is that this is an old building and it is only the Pent House and the other floors that we have been able to use to rescue people.
“So far, from what I have been briefed, we have rescued about 25 people and some already dead but we were earlier informed that it was a school, the building is not technically a school, it is a residential building that was actually accommodating an illegal school so to speak on the second floor.
“Like we have said, we have been carrying out a lot if integrity tests on the buildings in this neighborhood and as you can see, some of them have been marked for demolition but we get resistance from landlords but we must continue to save lives and we would intensify our efforts to see that those have failed our integrity test, we would ensure that they are quickly evacuated and we bring the structures down,” he said.
Governor Ambode also said that a full scale investigation would be carried out immediately rescue operations are concluded, vowing that those found culpable would be severely dealt with in accordance with the relevant laws.
“This is unfortunate but we will investigate what has happened and also see the punishment for whoever are the culprits. That is the secondary level but the most important thing right now is to save lives and I just appeal to people that they should give us the chance to save more lives,” he said.
He assured that rescue operations would continue until all victims are rescued, adding that the General Officer Commanding 81 Division and the Brigade Commander were on ground to maintain peace and ensure smooth rescue operations.
“That is what is important to us and the more lives we save, the better for us,” he said.
Responding to a concern raised by a resident on the increase in illegal schools in the area, Governor Ambode said all schools that fall within that category would be closed down.