On March 13th, 2019 in Ita Faji Lagos, a building which housed a school and other tenants collapsed. This incidence is sad on every level. Sad that innocent children and others lost their lives, sad that the collapse could have been avoided. The response from Nigerians has been a mixture of sadness, frustration, anger and a lot of blame and accusations are being made.
The question of who is to blame is not a simple answer. There are many people who are implicated and are getting some of the blame in this matter, some unfairly, but some really make you ask some very needed questions. I have more questions than answers!
The Building had apparently been marked for demolition, so the question is why had this building not yet been demolished? When a building is marked for demolition who monitors it, ensures that the building is no longer occupied and that the demolition actually happens? A building marked as unsuitable should not be used right? So why was it still standing and why were the occupants still living there? According to residents, they are lamenting the high number of lives that have been lost to the collapse of such buildings in the past. It is not okay that buildings collapse regularly.
According to various news sources, the tenants supposedly refused to move out. It is easy to blame them if this is true right? But do we really know if they knew that their lives were in danger? What about their rent that was paid in advance as is the norm in many parts of the Country? Would it have been easy to relocate or get their money back if they moved? Apparently, it is a common occurrence, whereby buildings that are sealed or marked for demolition are regularly ignored and ‘managed’. Unfortunately, our citizens do not take it seriously nor think it is dangerous to stay in an unsafe building.
Someone has actually blamed the parents, blamed them for sending their children to a school that was on two floors in a building that looked unsafe. First off, without having ever seen the building I do not know if the parents would have necessarily known that this building was unsafe. How would the parents have known that the building was a danger zone? These parents were doing their best. They had found a private school and were giving their children the gift of education. Can the parents be blamed? Who is responsible for telling the parents that the school their children were attending was in a building that had been marked for demolition and was, therefore, a danger zone?
According to Sahara Reporters, A woman couldn’t afford fees so she came to beg in the morning but the proprietor turned her back with her child; she has just heard what happened and is thanking God.
According to a parent who lost his son, he said “God gives and takes, we cannot question Him. All I need to do now is pray for him, console the mother, I know of a family who lost four of their children in the building, what will be their fate?
Details of the school are sketchy at this point, and the proprietress has been blamed by several people for being hungry for money and so she set up a school on two floors in a building. How can we be sure what her motive for starting a school was? Was it purely business or for love of education? Was it both? We just do not know.
Was she aware that the building was unsafe and that her life was at stake? What about the body that regulates schools? Did they visit the school and inspect to be sure that it was accredited and safe?
Is the school legal? There are reports that the school is illegal. A place of education should not be rumoured as illegal, how are schools set up and allowed to run if they are illegal? According to a different source, a medical officer, who wished to remain anonymous, reported that the proprietress of the Ohen Nursery and Primary School lost her life.
According to a resident in the neighbourhood, the house was a death trap, as many people who had lived there, never stayed for long, after several complaints about its structural integrity. Most of the rescued victims were rushed to Massey Hospital, close to the scene and other hospitals.
Why were there so many onlookers? The first responders who got on the scene were helpful in rescuing people trapped in the building. But the majority of the people there were simply onlookers, some were there simply to record what was happening. This would have served as an obstruction. Someone suggested that the crowd formed was so noisy that rescuers might not have heard the shouts of persons trapped in the building. As a Country, we need to have a better system for crowd control. What if the collapse affected other buildings that would also collapse? All the onlookers could have been in danger.
There are more questions than there are answers, what is clear is that a lot has to change. It is not okay that buildings collapsing is nothing new and that demolition orders are ignored or delayed.
The victims of this collapse are not only the occupants of the building but also some neighbours whose buildings also collapsed. There are several people now who are homeless. When people do not do what needs to be done; when shortcuts are taken all around and everyone gets used to managing and turning a blind eye; the effect cannot always be measured. We do not need more tragic occurrences before we make some real changes.
Our heart goes out to the parents and families who have lost loved ones, to those who have sustained injuries we pray for perfect healing. I pray that the patients will not lose their lives because they cannot get the care that they need.
Mr Olakunle Lasisi; Secretary of The Nigerian Red Cross, has appealed for blood donations for victims of the collapsed building on Lagos Island. He made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Lagos.
We are working closely with a doctor who is at the scene helping the victims and injured children. In addition to your prayers, please help financially. The injured need a lot of assistance and supplies. Funds raised will go directly to help the victims with the assistance they need. Please donate. We will ensure the money gets into the right hands as we do our bit to help the victims.
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