Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia
It took a swift move by Abia State Government to avert a potential disaster at the weekend when a two-storey building was pulled down in Umuahia, the capital city.
The defective building, which was located at No. 5 Akanu Ibiam Street and close to government house, was said to have started creaking, thereby sending warning signals that it could crumble any moment.
With the glaring warning signs, the occupants hurriedly packed their belongings and raised the alarm, which attracted government quick response.
A rapid response team was assembled that comprised the Ministries of Lands and Housing; Power and Public Utilities; Works, as well as the Umuahia Capital Development Authority (UCDA).
The Nigerian Police Force, the Abia State Fire Service, the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners and the Nigerian Society of Engineers, were also involved in the operation.
The Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Mr. Chaka Chukwumerije, told journalists that the state government intervened to save lives.
Chukwumerije explained that each agency involved in the demolition exercise played a specific role to ensure a seamless operation devoid of any collateral damage.
He said: “The site was quickly cordoned off by UCDA, the road blocked by the fire service, and everyone in the surrounding area evacuated, by the Nigerian Police, in order to preserve public safety and ensure no casualties were recorded.”
Chukwumerije stated that the initial plan was “to strip the building block by block, in order to preserve the surrounding structures,” but it was considered unsafe.
He said that the idea of stripping the building was dropped “and quickly replaced by a swift demolition of the building while minimising damage to surrounding structures.”
In his remarks, the Commissioner for Power and Public Utilities, Mr. Ikechukwu Monday, expressed gratitude to God that no life was lost over the defective building.
He advised builders to always engage the services of professionals before erecting any building either for residential or commercial purposes.
The General Manager of UCDA, Mr. Kenneth Agomoh, reiterated the commitment of the present administration to restore the integrity and sanity of buildings in the state.
He urged the public to always feel free to come forward with any information relating to defective structures in order to prevent unforeseen disasters.
Agomoh promised that the UCDA would take proactive steps in checkmating illegal structures and the attendant ugly consequences.