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OBSERVATION: The Fall Of 360 Degrees

  BY YAYA ADEMOLA  ON Monday, 1st November, 2021, a 21- storey building wing of a- three-tower estate designed by Mr. Femi Osibona, an estate developer and the Managing Director, Fourscore Heights Limited, collapsed in Gerrand Road, Ikoyi,  Lagos State, claiming 45 lives, including Femi Osibona himself, as established on Monday, 8th November,2021. The trio…”
Yusuf
November 12, 2021 1:16 pm

 

BY YAYA ADEMOLA 

ON Monday, 1st November, 2021, a 21- storey building wing of a- three-tower estate designed by Mr. Femi Osibona, an estate developer and the Managing Director, Fourscore Heights Limited, collapsed in Gerrand Road, Ikoyi,  Lagos State, claiming 45 lives, including Femi Osibona himself, as established on Monday, 8th November,2021. The trio of high-rise buildings also known as “360 Degrees Towers” is first of its kind in Nigeria, designed to have residential facilities maisonettes, flats, duplexes and penthouses, open recreation area with outdoor television, gym and swimming pool, club house, 24-hour security, servant’s quarter and parking space slated for completion in 2022. In fact, it was 80% completed with about 60% of the four bedrooms flat sold between $1.2m and $3m already as the higher the floor, the higher the price to the subscribers. Before his venture in Nigeria, the owner of the Fourscore Heights Limited, Femi Osibona, had developed similar properties in United Kingdom and South Africa.

Although, there are controversies on whether or not the developer got approval for 15-story building against 21-story he constructed. It was a fact that the collapsed building was sealed by Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) for an alleged failure of a structural test. In addition, there is a document from Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA) dated April 2019, revealing that only 15 floors were approved for the project like its other twin structures that are 15 floors.  Again, there was a letter from a Prowess Engineering Limited, alleged structural engineers supervising the collapsed building, written to Mr. Femi Osibona, stating that they could no longer continue with the work as they could only guarantee the integrity of the building up to the 4th floor and that they would not take responsibilities “for any other construction errors that may have occurred over time on the project” and requested their “company name and logo be removed from the project board and kindly notify all necessary approving authorities of our withdrawal.” The letter was signed by Muritala Olawale, Managing Director on 20th February, 2020. To ascertain this claim, all efforts to get across to the company and locating its office proved abortive.

As at the time of writing this piece, death toll was 45 while survivors were 6. Those hospitalised are having difficulty in paying their medical bills while no single insurance company has come out to pronounce that it is the insurer of the property and be responsible for medical bills and compensation to survivors, burial and compensations to the families of the deceased. While commending Babajide Sanwo-Olu government for a promise to picking up burial expenses and little compensation to the survivors, it cannot be a substitute to insurance company. Aside the deceased and survivors, what becomes of the subscribers who had paid some money upfront?

Although, Lagos State Government has indefinitely suspended Mr. Gbolahan Oki, the General Manager of Lagos State Building Control Agency   (LASBCA) and constituted a panel with members drawn from Nigeria Institute of Architects (NIA), Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) and other bodies to investigate remote and immediate causes of the collapse and make recommendations to preventing future occurrence, there seems to be an organised conspiracy to cut corners, from the property owners, supervising agencies down to the materials suppliers as reoccurrences have been too often.  Research has shown that from 2005 till date, “at least 152 buildings have collapsed” in Lagos State. This is an average of 10 collapsed houses per annum. This is unacceptable! Before, during, till handing over, building experts – Architects, Soil experts, structural and civil engineers, mechanical and electrical engineers are supposed to be working hand in hand with supervising government agencies. They are to vet materials to be used and each floor must be certified before proceeding to another level with time set for the concrete and casting to dry before weight is added. If all these are followed, there would not be structural defects that usually cause the collapse. Circumventing the system with impunity is a major cause as supervising agencies, more often, materials suppliers and experts, including the owners of property do play sharp practices for personal interest.

This explains why NECOM House, the jaw-dropping edifice, the tallest building in Lagos with 32- floor, 525feet (160m), designed, constructed and completed by NicksonBorys and Partners since 1979 still stands like the rock of Gibraltar today in Lagos Island. Cocoa House, a 26-floor house, 344ft (105m) in Ibadan, Oyo State was built in 1965 by Cappa and D’Alberto construction firms and still stands firm not withstanding that it got burnt on 9th February, 1985 as a result of a spark from a piece of malfunctioning electrical equipment and its renovation completed on 2nd August, 1992and opened for public use.

There is always a price to pay for cheating the system. Our individual and collective refusal to play by the rules instead of sharp practices to cheat and compromise the system will have daring consequences. Unfortunately, where sinners reap wages of their sins, the virtuous will have a portion. What a monumental disaster it would have been if this had happened when all subscribers had moved in!

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