February 5, 2023.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has confirmed the death of three persons at the collapsed two-story building in Aluu community, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, Friday night.
The NEMA South-south Zonal Coordinator, Godwin Tepikor, who spoke at the incident scene Sunday, said the disaster agency has concluded the evacuation, adding that the three dead bodies recovered from the rubble have been deposited at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) mortuary.
Tepikor, who blamed the incident on sharp practices by the engineer constructing the building, claimed that the engineer may have been compromised on the project as the incident could have been averted.
“National Emergency Management Agency have completed evacuation in the collapsed story building. We got a report of the collapsed building under construction yesterday (Saturday) and as the lead agency in charge of disaster management in Nigeria, we had to coordinate other stakeholders on a rescue mission at the incident scene.
“It’s glaring from our site assessment that the engineer or whoever would have been in charge of the project would have compromised.
“However, we have carried out the response and evacuated three bodies from under the rubble. The bodies have been deposited at the UPTH mortuary,” he said.
Tepikor commended agencies and other stakeholders for their full participation to ensure the management of the disaster.
“I will not fail to commend the stakeholders, including the Nigerian Police Force, Federal Fire Services, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Nigeria Red Cross, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Rivers State Emergency Medical Service and Ikwerre Local Government council chairman, who worked tirelessly, mobilised heavy equipment and other materials to save lives and maintain law and order,” he stated.
Reacting on the incident, the Rivers State Commandant of the NSCDC, Michael Ogar, said that the sad occurrence would have been avoided if the contractor had desisted from using substandard building materials.
Represented by Head of the Rivers NSCDC Disaster Management Rescue Team, Assistant Commandant Ngene James, Ogar noted that preliminary investigation reports revealed that the rods, pillars and blocks used in the construction of the two-storey building were far below the required specifications.
“It is high time Nigerians began to take responsibility for their actions most especially when life of humans are involved. The collapse of the two-storey building at Aluu in Ikwerre Local Government Area could have actually been avoided if standardized materials and right specifications were used.
“Owners of buildings and landlords are hereby advised to be wary of desperate and quack building contractors who cares only about their pockets and not the lives of innocent people,” Ogar said.
The commandant also lauded the Chairman, Ikwerre Local Government Area, Samuel Nwanosike, for mobilizing three pay loaders and providing the necessary logistics, which enhanced the rescuing of the victims and recovery of the three corpses during a joint rescue operations by the stakeholders at the scene of incident.
“Let me use this opportunity to thank the Ikwerre Local Government Chairman, the Head of NEMA South-south Office, other security agencies and well meaning people of Rivers State who collaborated with our men in the search and rescue operations. The collapsed building environment has now been cordoned and sealed to prevent further disaster,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Ikwerre LGA Chairman, Nwanosike, has sympathised with families of those who lost their lives in the incident, assuring them that the government will prosecute anyone found culpable in the building collapse.
Nwanosike said: “I can categorically state that NEMA has ascertained that search and rescue has come to an end. What happened here is a disaster that would have been averted if those who are involved had obeyed the laws of the land. But nevertheless, the rules of Nigeria must be applied adequately.
“For those who lost their lives, we sympathise with their family and we will do the needful as the law entails.”(www.naija247news.com).