The Lagos State government has told the occupiers of all buildings erected by Messrs Lekki Worldwide Estate, the owners of Lekki Gardens, to vacate the properties ahead of government investigations.
Wasiu Anifowose, commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, said Tuesday that integrity tests would be conducted on all structures erected by the developer.
“In the best interest of the occupiers of the other structures, their lives are very important to us as a government and we are appealing to them to vacate the building immediately until investigations are carried out,” the commissioner said.
Mr. Anifowose said the management of Lekki Gardens went behind regulators to add two additional floors after constructing and roofing an approved three storey building.
“The gentleman behind Lekki Gardens got approval for ground, first, second and third floors, but after doing the roofing, he removed it and added additional two floors which caused the building to collapse,” Mr. Anifowose said during an inspection of the collapsed building.
“So, we have to carry out integrity test on the other structures and the cost implication for present occupiers of the other structures to vacate the buildings would be borne by the developer.”
The Lagos State government had, on Monday, fired three senior officers of the state’s Building Control Agency, a week after a five-storey building under construction by Lekki Gardens collapsed, claiming 34 lives.
Addressing Government House correspondents shortly after visiting the collapsed building site on Tuesday, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said he had directed the demolishing, after integrity tests, of any defective building owned by Lekki Gardens.
“The state government will undertake a stability test on all other buildings constructed by the developer in the state, whether occupied or not, to ascertain their structural stability,” said Mr. Ambode.
“The developer will pay the cost of the tests. Any building found to be defective would be demolished. For those that pass the integrity test the developer will pay a penalty for any over development on the site.”
Mr. Ambode said the government would audit all structures in the state to ascertain those with planning approval as well as evaluate the physical development against the approved building plans.
“I want to assure you that there will be no longer sacred cows. If there is failure of duty, there will be sanctions,” he said.
“I also want to seize this opportunity to assure Lagosians that the state government will do everything within its powers to check the excesses of developers who flout its regulations and will restore efficiency and confidence in the building control and supervision process.”
A five-member committee that would examine the Urban and Regional Planning Law of the state as it affects the Lagos State Building Control Agency has been established, Mr. Ambode added.
Members of the committee, which would be chaired by Moses Ajayi, a former president of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners and Association of Professional Bodies in Nigeria; include Ore Fadayomi, president of the Nigerian Institute of Structural Engineers; Yetunde Ajayi, a retired permanent secretary; general manager of Lagos State Planning Authority; and Secretary of Lagos State Building Control Agency.
The committee is expected to submit its report in four weeks.
”Finally, let me reiterate that Lagos is open to business for those who must comply with the state laws and regulations in order to prosper,” said Mr. Ambode.
“Our main concern is to continue to improve on the ease of doing business and uphold the rule of law at all times. Those who choose non-compliance and defiance will henceforth face the full weight of the law without fear or favour.”