Building collapse: Lagos govt moves against Synagogue

Synagogue Church
Synagogue Church

The Lagos State Government has moved against the popular Synagogue Church of All Nations, Ikotun, whose one of its buildings collapsed last week killing scores of people including a 10-year-old kid with many others critically injured.

The structure, which was under construction, was initially a two-storey building before the addition of four new floors which were under construction.

As of Thursday, the death toll in the building collapse hit 80. Among the dead were 67 South Africans.

The Lagos State Building Control Agency has, therefore, marked the main building of the church, asking for relevant documents to prove its structural integrity.

The General Manager, Lagos State Building Control Agency, Mrs. Abimbola Animashaun-Odunayo, who confirmed that the building had been marked by the agency in a phone interview with Saturday PUNCH, said it had requested that the church provides some documents, adding that a structural integrity test would be carried out on all the buildings in the church complex.

She said, “X’ (the mark on the building) does not mean demolition; it is for structural integrity test to be carried out on the building and the church is expected to provide all the documents for approval and the church has three months to do this.”

Asked if the building would be demolished in case the church failed to meet the requirements within the time frame, Animashaun-Odunayo declined to make further comments.

“Look, it is still under investigation; I can’t say more than that. I don’t even know who I am talking with on the phone,” she said.

LASBCA was recently created to enforce building control regulations and implement the 2010 Physical Planning, Urban Development and Building Law in the state.

The State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr. Olutoyin Ayinde, who spoke with one of our correspondents, also described the “X” sign as a ‘stop work order.’

“It is a stop work order. it doesn’t mean the building will be demolished,” he said.

He explained the order became necessary so as to allow a structural integrity test on all the buildings in the church complex.

The commissioner said though there was an approval for the church auditorium, he was not certain that there was an approval for the additional work being done on the auditorium.

The President, Building Collapse Prevention Guild, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, also described the “X” mark as notice to stop work on the building and also to draw attention to illegal activities on it.

He said the notice could span up to seven days or more depending on the situation.

He said, “Work was ongoing on the six-storey building before it collapsed though the church said it was due to an aircraft hovering for a period of time but this aircraft could be traced and enquiry made.

“Technically speaking, the foundation of a house is the key for successive floors to sit comfortably.

“Presentation of papers such as the architectural drawings, structural drawings, soil test reports and many more would strengthen or weaken the evidence of the church.”

A former Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Architects, who is a member of the Building Collapse Prevention Guild Technical Committee on the investigation of the collapsed building at the Synagogue Church, Olufemi Shodunke, explained that the structural integrity test to be carried out on the building would involve professional judgement to determine its efficacy.

Shodunke said the professionals responsible for the construction of the collapsed guest house had yet to be identified and that the answer was important to the investigation of the committee.

An estate surveyor, Kayode Ogunji, who is also a member of the collapsed building investigation panel, said, “In the building language, when you have an ‘X’ sign labelled on a structure, it means there is a distress in that building; it means there is something wrong with the construction. It is either the building is tilting, sinking or the right materials were not used, and even before, during and after construction, if these tilts are discovered, the authority in charge will now come over there to tell the builders to stop.

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