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Ikoyi building collapse: Project board hid sensitive information, COREN tells inquest

Ikoyi building collapse: Project board hid sensitive information, COREN tells inquest
March 19
09:46 2022

The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) says it has submitted a report on the investigation into the 21-storey building on Gerard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, which collapsed on November 1, 2021.

More than 40 persons — including Femi Osibona, owner of Fourscore Homes, the developing company in charge of the building — died when the structure collapsed in November.

Testifying before the Ikeja coroner’s court Tomide Akinnawo, chief engineer and COREN’s head of Lagos liaison office, said their investigative panel noticed that the project board mounted at the site of the collapsed building hid vital information about the construction.

“The contractor did not give an address and phone number,” he said.

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“It is inappropriate, the project board hid a lot of sensitive and important information.

“The contractor or the client needed to have been sanctioned by the state development control bodies because information on the project board is not detailed.

“COREN has the mandate to visit sites, and anytime we visit sites, we limit our visit to the area of coverage which is the engineering aspect of that project.”

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According to Akinnawo, COREN uncovered another construction (Block D) built behind the original three high-rise structures at the site.

He said the investigative panel was not granted access to the site until the coroner ordered the access.

“When we began work there, we discovered Block D. That Block D was at the back of the other buildings. It was an eight-storey building, and it was meant to serve Blocks A, B and C,” he said.

“When we saw the Block D, we could not ignore it, we had to include it in our report.”

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Responding to the coroner on whether the landmass of the site was large enough to accommodate the four structures, Akinnawo said that the contractor of the project breached town planning regulations.

He said that the entrance to the site was also not appropriate for the magnitude of the structures.

Under cross-examination by Oluwamayokun David, a lawyer for Beyond Design Ltd., the witness stated that he had experienced squabbles between contractors and consultants while doing his tasks.

“The relationship between contractors and consultants in Nigeria is like cat and mouse. The contractor will want to cut corners which the consultants will not allow,” he said.

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“When a contractor continually violates quality control in his project, the duty of the consultant is to write through the project architect to the client.

“If it fails the consultant will write through the project manager to COREN. If no action is taken, the consultant will resign.”

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Akinnawo said that he first heard of Fourscore Heights after the building collapsed.

He said that COREN was unable to find the staff of the company to interview during the investigation.

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Oyetade Komolafe, the coroner, commended COREN for the report, adding that it was detailed.

He requested that additional two copies should be submitted to the inquest and adjourned to April 29 for the continuation of the hearing.

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