Nigeria: Collapsed 21-story Ikoyi building – owners and Lagos government have case to answer

The Ikoyi area of Lagos, Nigeria (Photo: Reginald Bassey/Wikimedia Commons)

The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), Lagos State Chapter, commiserates with the families of those who lost their lives and those injured in another tragic incident of building collapse in Lagos State.

According to 2nd November newspaper reports, at least 10 people have died when a 21-storey building collapsed in Ikoyi in the afternoon of Monday 1st November 2021. Many of those who have died or are still trapped are workers (Nigerian and other African nationals) who were on the site when the building suddenly crumbled. Also among those trapped is the Managing Director of Fourscore Heights Limited, Mr. Femi Osibona, who owns the building, as well as some of his clients and engineers.

This is one building collapse too many. The building in question was actually under construction. Therefore, if this calamity had occurred after completion and occupation, the human and material tolls would have been much higher. New reports flowing in since Monday evening show that like previous building collapse in Lagos state, profit motive by property developers, lax government oversight and corruption of regulatory officials are again some of the factors responsible for this incident.

According to news reports, the General Manager of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) has revealed that the owner of the building is well known to the Government officials as someone who regularly cuts corners on building projects a reason for which he was arrested in the past. In the case of this building, he was given approval to build a 15-storey building but didn’t only end up adding six extra stories to make it twenty-one but was also using substandard materials for the work. All under the nose of the Lagos state government and all its galaxy of regulatory agencies who are more adept at frustrating poor and working class people trying to build a modest home, while always ready to look the other way when the big-time capitalist developers and landowning aristocracies of Lagos are concerned.

Also, a letter from Prowess Engineering Limited, the company which initially offered structural consultancy service for the building project, has surfaced which shows that the firm had to withdraw from the project in February 2020 because it no longer shared “the same vision with the client in terms of how the project is being executed”. The company also said it could only guarantee the integrity of the 21-storey building only up to the fourth floor.

On the basis of the above revelations, the SPN Lagos State chapter is of the strong opinion that both Fourscore Heights Limited and the Lagos state government have a case to answer. In fact, as far as we are concerned, the statement made by the General Manager of LASBCA as reported by The Cable Online Newspaper already has established a prima facie case of collusion against the Lagos state government and the developer.

We hereby demand the following:

  1. The immediate sack, arrest, and prosecution of the General Managers of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) and the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA), as well as other Ministries and agencies that ought to have ensured strict compliance with the developer to the building approval issued as well as other standard procedures.
  2. Arrest and prosecution of the owners and officials of Fourscore Heights Limited as well as the contractors working with the company on the building project.
  3. An independent and democratic probe panel comprising representatives of professional bodies like the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON), Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Nigeria Institute of Surveyors (NIS), Nigeria Institute of Architects , Nigerian Institute of Town Planners etc. and trade unions like the National Union of Civil Engineering, Construction, Furniture and Wood Workers (NUCECFWW), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), civil society and community associations with a view to unravel the factor behind this building collapse and the incessant cases of building collapse in different parts of Lagos State.
  4. Adequate compensation for all victims of the building collapse and their families.
  5. For a comprehensive integrity tests on all high rise buildings in Lagos State including all physical structures suspected to have been built with substandard materials or in violation of approval in order to avoid a repeat of this tragedy.
  6. An end to casualization in the construction sector. For the regularization of all construction jobs with trade union rights, minimum wage and improved conditions of service.

In conclusion, the incessant building collapse in Lagos state is no doubt a product of the domination of the construction sector by private capitalist developers. They are in a desperate search for profit and do not mind cutting corners and bringing down costs by underpaying workers and using substandard materials thereby endangering the lives of members of the public. Instead of regulating them, it is these private capitalist developers who regulate the government as seen in how they readily and freely utilize the apparatus of the State especially the Police and the army for their own end, including snatching the lands of the poor by demolishing their houses, shanties, and shops.

The SPN hereby demands an end to the unconscionable waste of workers and human lives on the altar of capitalist profit. We demand that the Lagos state government takes up its responsibility to provide housing for the people as done previously by Lateef Jakande government in the state. This is still achievable by overhauling and re-tooling the Lagos State public works department to carry out massive housing projects across the state to ensure that the enormous deficit in housing is addressed in order to end homelessness, slum-dwelling as well as the unconscionable waste of human lives by private developers cutting corners to make a profit.

Comrade Rufus Olusesan

Chairman, SPN Lagos State

Comrade Moshood Oshunfurewa

Secretary, SPN Lagos State

E-mail: socialistpartyofnigeria@yahoo.com

Website: www.socialistpartyofnigeria.org.ng

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