In response to the frequent incidents of building collapse in Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has ordered the demolition of 20 houses in Banana Island, Ikoyi.
The governor, who was accompanied by Omotayo Bamgbose-Martins, commissioner for physical planning and urban development, Adeyoye Aramide, special adviser on works, and the Gbenga Omotoso, commissioner for information and strategy, among others, ordered the demolition of 20 completed buildings on the island.
During a visit to the site of a recent building collapse on First Avenue in Banana Island, Sanwo-Olu criticised some federal government agencies for their involvement in these incidents and described the actions of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), who permitted the sand filling of the Lagos Lagoon without consideration for the area’s topography, as reckless.
He stated that the site of the collapsed building was not originally part of the island’s plan.
“We are at the back of the land that is abutting. You can see that the original line for Banana Island is not even here. It is way in front and you can see that there are several extensions granted by both the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and NIWA. These are the two federal agencies that have been culpable for those extensions. They have done these extensions without our knowledge,” Sanwo-Olu said.
“We have responsibility for building approval. All of the four buildings at the back never got our approval. This is an illegality that is real and that is why we are going around the properties.
“The excuse that they don’t have access is not acceptable. It is total recklessness. All the developers and the culpable officers will be sanctioned.
“But what we are doing now is – we have set up an external committee who are given two weeks to independently ascertain what has gone wrong here and they should finish the work towards the end of next week. This will further strengthen our hands to be able to come up with a robust work plan that we can enforce going forward.
“It is heartbreaking each time we have to go through this and it shows how irresponsible both the developers, some of our citizens that just want to make quick money, and of course our officers, who are not alive to their responsibility.
“We have had to change staff here and there so that we can bring forward robust and very strong monitoring offices, but we are still short of it, I must say. We need to do what we have to do to keep the lives of our citizens safe at all times, ” Sanwo-Olu said.
The governor accused some officials of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) of corruption, stressing that they would be held responsible for the recent collapse of a seven-story building on the island recently.
Sanwo-Olu lamented that approvals were given to developers by the federal government in connivance with some corrupt officials of the Lagos State government, adding that the land on which the collapsed building was built was not originally part of the approved Banana Island’s plans.
He stated that no construction should have been carried out on the land.
“There has been a lot of investigation going on. We have seen the extent of unapproved expansion into the water. There have been several extensions approved by the Federal Ministry of Works without our knowledge,” he added.
The governor also inspected other ongoing building projects to ascertain their level of compliance.
In some areas, Sanwo-Olu was shocked to find multi-storey buildings constructed directly under high-tension power lines. After inspecting the buildings, he ordered them demolished immediately.
He was also scandalised that some buildings that had earlier been demolished by the state government had been reconstructed without the government’s permission.
While three of the buildings are from the commercial section of the island, 17 are from the residential section.
“We are at the site of the last unfortunate building collapse in Banana Island Lagos and I am sure you have all gone around and seen the site. As has been reported before, there has been a lot of investigation that is going on right now and you can see that they are still clearing the rubbles at the site.
“We have given the order to stop work, not only at this site but also in all of the construction sites in Banana Island.
“I think that the exercise we are doing today is not really just about this location. You have all seen the extent of what I will call an unapproved extension into the water, at the back of each of the land that is aborting water.
“You can see that the original line for Banana Island is not even where we are. It’s in front there and you can see that several extensions have been granted by both the Federal Ministry of Work and Housing and NIWA. These are the two federal agencies that have been culpable for those extensions.
“They have done these extensions even without our knowledge. We have the responsibility for building approvals and the rest of these.
“From what I have been told, all of the four buildings at the back have never even applied for approvals.
“The illegality is real and so, that is why we are going around other properties in Banana Island.
“Excuses have been given that they don’t have access and this is not acceptable. This is a total recklessness of all of the developers and we will make a strong point out of this place and all-around Banana Island and in other developments that we have.
“The officers that will also be similarly found culpable will also be sanctioned, if any.
“In all of these places, it’s heartbreaking each time we have to go through these and it shows sometimes how irresponsible those developers and some of our citizens that just want to make quick money.
“And of course, our own officers who are also not alive to their responsibilities.
“We have had to change staff here and there so that we can bring forward robust and very strong monitoring offices. But we believe that we are still far from it, we are still short on it I must say.
“And we will continue to do what we need to do to ensure that we keep the lives of our residents safe at all times. We are going around as I said that this is not the first one, you are free to join us if you want,” Sanwo-Olu said.