The process of removing distressed buildings in the Alaba International Market in Ojo Local Government, Lagos State, was initiated by the Lagos State Government on Friday.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the joint effort involved the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) enforcement team and the Lagos State Task Force. The team went around the area to reseal several buildings that had previously received multiple quit seal notices from LASBCA. The purpose of this measure was to prevent any potential disasters.
The team advised the occupants of these structurally defective buildings to vacate them immediately, as they had become highly hazardous for habitation.
A NAN correspondent who accompanied the delegation observed that some of the buildings undergoing reconstruction were tilted. During the tour, the enforcement director highlighted several multi-story buildings that were sinking but were still being expanded with additional floors.
In interviews with journalists, some of the traders alleged that they had made payments towards obtaining building approvals before commencing renovations.
In response to the situation, Mr. Gbolahan Oki, the General Manager of LASBCA, stated that the government would demolish the buildings to safeguard lives. Oki expressed concern about the potential collapse of these structures during rainfall and emphasized that the government prioritized the safety and well-being of residents over the property.
Oki mentioned that the government was proactive and planned to demolish approximately 17 buildings outside the 349 previously identified for demolition.
Since 2016, the occupants have received several notices to take necessary actions, but they have been uncooperative and even resorted to harassing enforcement officials.
Due to the constant threats faced by LASBCA officials from the occupants and their use of thugs to assault them, the agency sought assistance from the Lagos State Task Force.
The general manager admitted to developing a fear of rain due to the constant worry about defective buildings collapsing. This fear prompted the government to take proactive measures to prevent loss of life.
“All those buildings are going to go down between now and Monday. LASBCA has given them enough notice.
“Everybody that lives in Lagos State, their lives are worth more than the cost of any building or the cost anybody is going to make on it.
“This is because when a building is going to come down, it is not going to give you a notice that I am coming down,” he said.
Oki mentioned that all the buildings identified for demolition were in an irreparable state. He described the characteristics of distressed structures, including severe tilting and various cracks.
He emphasized that the government had taken steps to simplify obtaining building approvals by setting up LASBCA district offices in all divisions.
He advised residents of Lagos who possessed valid land documents and building plan approvals to visit or contact LASBCA offices to obtain authorization before starting any construction.
Oki stated that this measure would enable efficient monitoring and supervision of construction activities.