Shocked by the report that scores of persons have been killed after a two story building collapsed on Wednesday night at the Federal Capital Territory—FCT, the Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has tasked the minister of FCT Mr. Nyesom Wike to reorganise the department of development control and enforce a regime of regular supervision of edifices by qualified building engineers in the employ of the FCTA.
HURIWA which condoled sincerely with the families of those killed by the collapsed building in the nation’s Capital, stated that though the action of the minister to order the immediate arrest of the owner of the site was appropriate but the Rights group emphasised the need for a much more robust supervisory mechanisms to be activated by the staff of the Development Control in the office of the Federal Capital Development Authority.
HURIWA also urged the minister of FCT that should there be established case of compromise of standards either on the part of the owner of the building or dereliction of duty by officials of the development control, then stringent and punitive measures be enforced against them to serve as deterrent for cutting corners and violating building specifications.
The Rights group also asked the Minister of FCT to reorganise the Federal capital territory disaster management agency to infuse the process of prompt and efficient rescue operations whenever cases of such disasters occur in the nation’s Capital. HURIWA faulted the delay in providing first responders rescue services and the reported unavailability of 21st century compliant machinery and excavator for rescuing victims of collapsed structures.
As reported, the structure which is said to be located along Lagos Street in Garki area of Abuja collapsed around 11pm just as the building housed many apartments including shops and offices.
HURIWA quoted Dr Abbass Iddris, Director General of Federal Emergency Management Agency—FEMA while confirming the unfortunate incident said that 37 people have been rescued out of which two are fatally injured.
Dr.Abbass Idriss said as follows: “37 persons have so far been rescued and evacuated to hospital, others reportedly still trapped. “Rescue team and others are on ground. Rescue operations on but slowly due to ongoing rain. “They are making frantic efforts at getting an excavator to remove people from the rubble”. He revealed that rescue mission continues while they await the arrival of equipment to enhance the operations. But HURIWA said the delay in providing life saving equipment for first responders to rescue victims of the collapsed building borders on dereliction of duty which should be addressed holistically.
The Rights group which describes the latest case of building collapse as one too many, asserted that the situation of building collapses in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has become increasingly alarming, with a disturbing number of incidents occurring within short intervals, despite the self acclaimed but certainly unsatisfactory efforts of relevant authorities to address the issue.
HURIWA affirmed that many examples highlight this concerning trend even as it added that one such incident took place on March 5th, 2021, when a commercial building known as ABC Plaza in the bustling district of Wuse 2 suffered a catastrophic collapse. This prominent hub for businesses and retail activities allegedly succumbed to compromised structural integrity and undetected damages, resulting in devastating consequences. Multiple lives were lost, and the incident had significant economic repercussions, raising concerns about the enforcement of building codes and the need for regular structural assessments.
In August 2022, residents of Kubwa, a satellite town in Bwari Area Council, experienced panic as a two-storey building under construction collapsed, leading to the loss of one life and trapping numerous workers. The incident occurred at Hamza Abdullahi Street, off Gado Nasko Road, Kubwa.
Six months later, in February 2023, another tragedy was unleashed when a two-storey building still under construction collapsed in Gwarinpa estate, resulting in the deaths of two individuals. Dozens of people working on the site were trapped as a result. Shortly after, a fence belonging to an adjoining building at Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Wuse 2, Abuja, collapsed, tragically claiming the lives of two artisans and leaving four others seriously injured. Another incident reportedly occurred on July 3rd this year when a three-storey building collapsed in the Dape area of Life Camp, FCT.
Today, August 24th, 2023, a building collapse at Lagos Street in Garki Village, Abuja, resulted in the loss of two lives, with three people still trapped and 37 individuals successfully rescued. Ongoing rescue efforts continue as authorities intensify the search for additional victims at the scene of the incident, situated opposite the Garki police station in the FCT.
Reacting, HURIWA said these regrettable but avoidable incidents underscore the urgent need to address the issue of building collapses in the FCT and reinforce the importance of stringent building regulations, regular inspections, and proactive safety measures to protect lives and prevent further tragedies.