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Building Collapse: Families agonise as 57 incidents kill 137 in 2 years

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By Emmanuel Agaji

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Kamoru, 23, and Rashidatu, 18, sat in front of the mountain-like rubble from the collapsed seven-storey building in Oba Idowu Oniru Street, Lagos, agonising over the loss of their father.

Kazeem, their father, was among those who died when the building collapsed because he was among the many artisans that slept in the building as it was being constructed.

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Kamoru, who is the eldest son of the deceased 68-year-old bricklayer, said his father would come home on Fridays and return on Sundays to the construction site, depending on the volume of work to be done.

Like many others, he fell victim to the ever-increasing number of building collapse incidents that have continued to kill many in Nigeria, with the latest figures showing that at least two people get killed in every collapse on average.

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Two buildings collapsed four days apart in Kano and Lagos, killing four and injuring many, a situation that further highlights the magnitude of the national tragedy that has now plagued the building and construction sector in the country.

A building under construction in one of the GSM markets on Beirut Road in Kano collapsed on Wednesday the previous week, killing two and injuring many.

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Also, penultimate Sunday, four days after, a multiple-storey building in Palace Estate, Oba Idowu Oniru Street, Lagos, collapsed, killing two and trapping an unspecified number of people.

Data collated by Daily Trust Saturday has shown that 137 people have been killed, while 156 have been injured in 57 collapse incidents across 14 states of the federation from January 2021 to date. The states are Lagos, Kano, Anambra, Rivers, Ebonyi, Delta, Abia, Yobe, Benue, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Ondo, Ogun, Imo and Kwara.

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Lagos State recorded the highest number of incidents: 10 in 2021, including the infamous Ikoyi incident, which killed over 40 people, and five in 2022; thus accounting for the majority of fatalities in all the structural failures that occurred in the building and construction sector in the period under review.

A former president of the Nigeria Institute of Building (NIOB), Kunle Awobodu, said the number of reported or documented collapsed buildings in Nigeria since October 1974, as at July 13, 2022, was 508, with that of Lagos standing at 320.

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“In that case, Lagos State accounts for 63 per cent of collapsed buildings in Nigeria, yet it has the smallest land area among the 36 states of the federation,” he added.

The recurring building collapses forced the erstwhile Lagos State commissioner for physical planning and urban development, Idris Salako, to resign.

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Before his resignation, however, he told journalists at the scene of the Oniru building collapse that the developer of the structure had been “hostile” to the agency’s officials sent to seal the site.

Salako refused to mention the developer’s name, but told journalists that the police would disclose the identity of the recalcitrant developer.

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Six persons were said to have been trapped under the rubble of the seven-storey building from which two bodies were recovered.

Salako added, “Several times, officers of the Lagos State Building Control Agency visited this site and the attitude of the contractor was that of hostility. He used his personal security to stop them from carrying out their lawful duty.”

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Also, Olufemi Osanyintolu, the permanent secretary in the Lagos State Emergency Agency, told journalists at the incident scene that the building was earlier sealed on February 18, 2021.

According to available data, Kano and Anambra states follow Lagos in the number of incidents that occurred in the last two years. While Kano recorded four incidents only in 2022, Anambra witnessed four such tragedies in 2021.

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It’s an ugly trend – REDAN president

Meanwhile, the president of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), Dr Aliyu Wamako, said the unending incidents of collapsed buildings were caused by human errors, and as such, were preventable.

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Wamako, who spoke with Daily Trust Saturday on phone, while commiserating with family members of victims of the collapsed buildings, said the stakeholders were not willing to prevent the incidents.

“Professionals are not doing their jobs; any building you see standing should be erected by a professional. If that is not done, it means that anybody can cut corners and do what they want to do. The authorities must, therefore, ensure that professionals are engaged to construct buildings just like what is happening in the REDAN.

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“We engage professionals in all our building constructions, so in situations where you see these buildings collapsing, they are not members of the REDAN because they don’t adhere to the ethics and code of conduct of their profession,” he said.

He, therefore, urged urban and physical planning authorities and building experts across the country to take responsibility and work in tandem with laid down rules and end the menace.

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Wamako also said the real estate development bill his association sent to the National Assembly, when signed into law, would curb the malaise of building disasters in the country.

Guild offers solution

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Awobodu, who is also a past president of the Building Collapse Prevention Guild, while delivering a paper at the 2022 Engr T. M. Olatunji Distinguished Annual Lecture organised by the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers in July, said, “A common sharp practice in the building development sector of Nigeria is the use of a set of drawings for the building plan approval and a different set for the construction of the same building. In this circumstance, the vetted and approved building plan could be altered in height, length or width on site.”

He, however, said the compartmentalisation of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development into three agencies in Lagos, for instance, improved on its efficiency. They are: Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority, Lagos State Building Control Agency and Lagos State Urban Renewal Agency.

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He added, “Some of our professional colleagues, especially town planners, architects, engineers and builders, could not exonerate themselves from an act initiated by clients primarily to maximise gains on building spaces, which might in future endanger building and public safety.

“The advantage of the separation done in the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development was to ensure, through checks and balances, that officials that approved building plans would be different from those monitoring the construction of such buildings. Hence, the practice of non-conformance with approved building plans on site was envisaged to reduce drastically.”

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Awobodu also said professionalism was lacking in the Nigerian construction industry, saying the Nigerian building regulatory mechanism is questionable in the eyes of the entire world.

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ECOParl: MPs Say Covid-19, Russia-Ukraine War, Low Import Duties, Reason For Low Remittances of Community Levy

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By Gloria Ikibah

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, have attributed the causes of low remittance of community levy by member states to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, low import inflow, the effect of Covid-19 on the global economy leading to recession among other factors.

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Speaking with Journalists at the ongoing 2nd Extra-Ordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Lome, a cross-section of Parliamentarians from different countries also blamed the development on negligence on the part of some member states.

The Ghanaian Head of Delegation, Hon. Alexander Afenyo Markin, asserted that the current economic downturn experienced across regions is a major deterrence to remittance of levies.

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“Without attempting to speculate, I should think that the recent downturn in business is a result of economic crisis leading to low import could be a factor, in the sense that now we are having this Ukraine- Russia war which came just after COVID obviously import have come down, it has reduced drastically, and this levies are imposed on import at our Ports so obviously.

“It could also be the slow pace at which member states transmit or transfer such levy as collected so we need that political will from the Commission, the Heads of States, or those responsible for this, and those coordinating to ensure that these levies as at when they are collected are transmitted to ECOWAS on time.

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While MP from Seirra-Leon, Hon. Veronica Sesay said the possible cause of countries non-remittance of levy was negligence.

“This could be out of negligence. We cannot move, we cannot succeed, even ECOWAS Parliament committees cannot come to Lome or go to Abuja without paying of levies, and that is why we are asking the other member states to pay their levies because it is sometimes unfair if others pay their levies on time then you benefit on time, so I don’t want to call it parasitic because we have to work together as a team”, she said.

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Hon. Adjaratou Traore from Cote d’Ivoire said, “without the community levy there will be no ECOWAS Parliament, there will be No ECOWAS Commission, every country need to contribute, we have to make sure our government take this issue very seriously to make the operation of the regional body smooth, so all Member States have to work hard on it”.

Similarly, Nigerian Delegate to the session, Sen. Smart Adeyemi said, “There is a global economic recession now, I think as the economy improves maybe next year, some of these West African Countries will be able to meet up their obligation to the ECOWAS Parliament”.

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Hon. Siryon from Liberia added “the pandemic came in and interrupted countries economic plans, I feel that is the reason why some of them have not been able to pay, no matter what, they have to pay, if they have problems, they have to come to us, they have to come and let ECOWAS know the problem, they put the Act together, they sign it and I believe that they will pay” she said.

The Parliamentarians furthermore called for mechanism to be put in place to fast track payment by making sure that such funds come to the Commissions by the use of technology.

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They also believe that, bureaucracy of collection and transmitting should be eliminated by creating a network which will automatically ensure that ECOWAS and other institutions receive their payment directly from the Member States once charges are made in their Ports. That according to them will be one way of resolving that issue of non-remittance of community levy.

“There will be no excuses as to what the Member States have collected and refused or delayed. It is these levies that are used for capacity building, for all activities, for stability and for work to progress, and also for salaries of workers, our community institutions depend on this levy, that is our only source of income and funding for our activities as a Sub-Region, for me, it is a key thing that must be considered”.

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North Korea fires two missiles, blames US

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North Korea fired two ballistic missiles Thursday and claimed its recent blitz of sanctions-busting tests were necessary countermeasures against joint military drills by the United States and South Korea.

As the United Nations Security Council met to discuss Pyongyang’s Tuesday launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan, North Korea blamed Washington for “escalating the military tensions on the Korean peninsula”.

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The recent launches — six in less than two weeks — were “the just counteraction measures of the Korean People’s Army”, Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said in a statement Thursday.

Seoul, Tokyo and Washington have ramped up joint military drills in recent weeks, including large-scale naval manoeuvres and anti-submarine exercises.

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No Amount Of Fasting, Prayer Can Cure HIV” – Bisi Alimi

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Bisi Alimi is of the belief that no amount of fasting or prayer can be able to heal an individual who is infected with the HIV virus.

Alimi is a Nigerian gay rights activist, public speaker, blog writer and HIV/LGBT advocate who gained international attention when he became the first Nigerian to come out on television.

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In a new development, Alimi who has been living well advised those living with the virus to live a happy life by thinking positively, exercising and taking their medications regularly.

He also urged people living with the virus not to listen to naysayers.

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“If you are HIV+, no amount of prayers and fasting will cure you. Take your medication, exercise, think positively and live a happy life. There is no healing in faith.

“Your viral load will only come down if you adhere and not by how days you pray or fast.

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“If your viral load is taking long to come down, talk to your healthcare provider about it and be very honest about the lifestyle choices you have.

“Don’t mind the idiots laughing cos you are positive; at least you know. Many of them hide under their clothes, their greatest shame. Turn their stigma into your crown of glory”.

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