My personal assistant was getting married in three weeks and we were out together at a hotel in Abuja. We were literally out on the last assignment she would accompany me to before her wedding. Then electricity seized for a nano second, and when it was restored, the lift containing all five of us, my P.A. included, hung between two floors.
Then it took a plunge to the next floor, which, if I recall, was the sixth floor and then refused to take command. In our slow rising panic, one of us touched all the buttons and confused the lift further. It simply refused to budge. It was now between the 6th and the 5th floor. We could hear voices. One person outside said the lift had been bad, and the hotel management had been saying they would fix it but never did. We were now in danger because of a hotel’s inefficiency. We were now at risk of possibly dying if the lift dropped suddenly.
I tried to keep it together. I looked and sounded calm. But I was literally shaking inside. My P.A. had started to cry. She was getting married in 3 weeks. Our other three co- travellers were talking all at once. They were shouting from inside the lift for help. The only female among them was shrieking. I, on the other hand, was dumbstruck. I was unable to speak, but my head was in knots. I had so much to say, but I could not find my tongue. I was just numb.
I watched in horror as my co- travellers one after the other began to snivel. Being older, I had to assure everyone that we would be okay even if I did not believe it myself. Then we heard more voices. The technician who was meant to be called in emergencies was not answering his call. Then, when he answered, he was literally 20 minutes away. Twenty long minutes. We were already in the lift for about ten minutes even though it began to feel like 2 hrs.
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Long story short, a young man with some experience tried to prise through the doors. During this period, someone from the lift maintenance office joined the man and finally opened the door. My P.A. fell into a heap, and I stepped out, needing to drink some water. A crowd had gathered outside the lift. The entire scene was straight out of a movie. By the way, we needed to step out of the lift by jumping because there was a gap between the two floors.
Our nation is fraught with energy challenges. If you are not going to have a generator on permanently, then the chances of people being trapped in a lift is very high
I can tell you for free that we were very lucky on that day many years ago. My P.A. went on to have a fancy marriage, and today has three children to the glory of God.
Dr Vwaere Diaso, a house officer at a General hospital in Lagos, was not so lucky a couple of weeks ago when she plunged to her death in an elevator accident. She could only be evacuated after an hour and a half. I shudder to think what her mind was telling her when the accident occurred. Was she still alive when she dropped? In the long hour and a half, was she conscious? I am so sad that someone at the prime of her life with incredible prospects would go in such a tragic manner.
Many years ago at the NYSC office in Lagos, a corper plunged to his death as a result of no sign on an uncompleted lift.
Our nation is fraught with energy challenges. If you are not going to have a generator on permanently, then the chances of people being trapped in a lift is very high. A hotel, shopping complex, and hospital all make money. The NYSC office generates revenue and there are enough educated people there to put up a sign.
Nigeria needs to do better. An elevator should not and must not be killing our citizens. My heart bleeds. It is so sad.