Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
A three-storey building collapsed Friday in Abuja killing two people and injuring three others. Not less than 15 people were also said to be trapped under the debris.
The building, located at Sector Centre B, Jabi Area of Utako District, was said to have been built in 1997 and later abandoned for more than twenty years before the owner decided to increase the number of floors without taking into consideration the integrity of the structure.
THISDAY gathered that it was in the process of adding another floor that tragedy struck around 1:30p.m on Friday, claiming the life of the site engineer and one other person.
Eyewitnesses decried the late response of rescue teams, who they said did not come until more than one hour after the building collapsed.
It was also gathered that one of the persons trapped inside the collapsed building was making a phone call to someone outside before the other person lost communication with him.
THISDAY correspondent observed that rescue operations commenced effectively at about 4:10pm when Julius Berger, one of the biggest construction companies in the country, mobilised its heavy equipment to the collapsed building site.
Although government agencies like National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Fire Service, Civil Defence, Red Cross, Police, VIO, FRSC were already on ground, they could only do little because they lacked the appropriate equipment to carry out the operation.
The Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute was among the first government agencies that arrived the place.
The team led by their Director General, Prof. Danladi Matawal, took samples from the collapsed building for testing to ascertain the real cause of the incident.
An eyewitness, Comrade Tersoo Achin, whose office is opposite the collapsed building, said they were able to rescue five people before rescue teams came.
He said: “they were doing casting on the third floor, the building has been here for twenty years. It is an old structure. When we heard a loud bang, we rushed there, the only people we were able to rescue were five. Two died on the spot, three were severely injured, we had to rush them to Gwarinpa General hospital unconscious.
“But what pains me so much is that there is a lot of shenanigans. I had that this building is owned by a former minister of this country…. and this building has been here for more than twenty years.
“What pains me the most is that the Development Control department of the FCTA who are supervising this building supposed to know the integrity of this building, how they are supposed to supervise it. But they didn’t supervise it well because of corruption.
“Right now, almost 15 people are trapped inside the building, no response on time, we had to beg and plead before other agencies came.”
Another eyewitness who did not want his name in print said that the building was an old one as it was built in 1997.
Also, the Head of Administration, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, FCT Command, Felix Ikwuegu, said the building collapse was unfortunate, but added that men of the service were doing everything humanly possible to ensure that the casualties that would arise from the incident were reduced to the barest minimum.
Rescue operations were will ongoing as at the time of filing this report.