ABOUT 10 people escaped death on Monday, when a four-storey building being developed as an annex to Haastrup Mall and Entertainment Centre and billed for demolition this week eventually collapsed on 444 Crescent, Wupa District in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The building plot was allocated by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) in 2009, but the developer commenced additional structure which was not approved by the authority.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that the collapsed building was supposed to have been demolished in June, but officials of the authority had to suspend the exercise after thugs were mobilised to attack the demolition team.
On the fateful day, the team was moving to the now collapsed building after successfully demolishing another illegal building on 1st Avenue, which was a gray area converted to residential area by a developer, before it met a tense situation and decided to temporarily suspend the operation.
Nigerian Tribune equally sighted one of the three contravention notices with reference number FHA/ABJ/ES/TP/DC/004 and dated March 30 served on the said developer by the authority.
Managing Director of the FHA, Professor Mohammed Al-Amin, confirmed that there was tension and unfavourable security situation created by thugs on the day the demolition team from the authority went to demolish the structure.
He said the authority’s development control personnel noticed that work had commenced on the structure at the back of an approved mall which was not covered by the earlier approval and moved in.
Al-Amin equally confirmed that the authority, after the failed attempt to demolish the ill-fated structure, went into consultation with the development control department of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) for its support in handling the contravention, while a follow-up meeting was scheduled for this week before the structure eventually came down.
According to him, all the construction workers rescued from the site were taken to hospital and were responding to treatment.
The FHA boss stated that the authority had not encountered what he described as “this kind of thing of this magnitude before,” saying “we are known by our quality.”
He disclosed that in addition to sealing off the site and an order for further work to stop, the authority had deployed personnel to study the situation on ground, vowing that the remote and immediate cause of the collapse would be made public.
Al-Amin hinted that there would be punishment for those who contravened the law, but said the authority had to first ascertain the level of contravention.
Nigerian Tribune observed at the site of the collapsed building that personnel of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) FHA and the Federal Fire Service undertook rescue operations, in conjunction with other relevant agencies.
The operatives were seen using sniffer dogs and other equipment to ascertain if more persons were still trapped.
This collapse came barely two weeks after the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammadu Bello, said he had given clear instruction that illegal buildings within the purview of his administration would no longer be demolished by the administration, but that the owners were being encouraged to dismantle them by themselves.
Also, last Saturday, the minister said that his administration would not engage in demolition of shanties except those that must be removed to pave way for roads and to improve on the health of the dwellers, saying focus would be to upgrade such slums.
The minister had said “even if there is going to be demolition or relocation of people, there is a clear instruction now that no more destruction; give people reasonable time and notice and also encourage them to do the dismantling by themselves. That way, you reduce tension and more importantly, you allow them to salvage what has economic value. That’s what we have been doing and it has worked.”