Lagos State Emergency Management Agency on Sunday night evacuated residents of a building at 3, Ajayi Street, Ogba, Lagos State, which was feared to be collapsing.
The three storey building, has six flats on each floor. Some tenants had raised the alarm that a part of it was cracking.
On Monday when our correspondent visited the building, all the tenants had been evacuated while a red tape was used to cordon off the premises.
Some of the tenants, who spoke to PUNCH Metro, said they were worried that they could not pack most of their belongings before the building was sealed off.
An operator of a printing press in the building said the residents informed the estate agent in charge of the building about their fears. The agent in turn informed government authorities.
The printer, who pleaded anonymity said, “Some people even packed out on Saturday, but on Sunday, we all had to leave the house when officials of LASEMA came.
“We are here now waiting for the officials to know when we could go in and pack all our properties.”
Another resident, Nkeiruka Ugochi, said she could not pack out most of her belongings because of the urgency.
She said, “Where we will go will be sorted out later. Yesterday (Sunday), I took my children to their uncle’s house.
“The problem started when the walls were cracking and some places were also peeling. We need the emergency officials to help us pack our properties out.”
A member of a church, City of Divine Grace, located in the building, said they could not worship on Sunday.
He said, “We asked all members to stay outside because everybody was afraid the building might collapse anytime.
“We could not pack out the church’s properties. We are waiting for the officials of LASEMA to come and open the building. The church will have to make arrangement for an alternative space later. We just need to get our things out for now.”
However, at about 1pm when our correspondent went back to the area, the residents had become agitated because they still could not pack out their belongings.
Some of them alleged that the government officials who sealed the building had started “playing politics” with the situation.
One of the residents, Henry Igbinidu, said, “Two government agencies are fighting over who had the authority to take charge of the situation.
“Why can’t they simply allow us to pack out our belongings? The padlock they used to lock the gate on Sunday was changed twice on Monday, just because of jurisdiction claims. Why does everything have to be politics?”
Another resident, Ishide Egboho, said rather than address the residents, the officials engaged in heated argument over who should take charge of the building.
The residents said, “They said they might have to demolish the building. There is no problem, but they should allow us pack out our belongings.
“We moved out without being asked to do so; they should at least treat us like human beings and allow us to pack out our things so that we can look for where to go to.”
When our correspondent spoke to the General Manager of LASEPA, Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, said the residents were given adequate time to pack out their belongings.
Osanyintolu, “I was there throughout Sunday night ensuring that they were evacuated together with their belongings. They have moved out their belongings, those who want to go in are those who feel there are some small things they still need to get from the house.
“What we must understand is that life has no spare parts. Someone may go into the building and it will collapse on him or her. As a responsible government, we are concerned about the life of the people. We cannot just allow them to go back into the building because of other little things they forgot while packing.
“The building is clearly distressed and we got report that the residents had been warned before about the state of the building. So, they had adequate advance warning.”