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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Lagos Govt. to demolish distressed buildings inside Dosunmu market

...as Traders, residents argue over cause of fire

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has ordered full assessment of buildings in Dosunmu and adjoining areas on the Lagos Island, following the fire disaster that engulfed the market, leading to collapse of six high-rise structures in the state..

Two days after the fire broke, the site remains an active disaster zone, with first responders from the Lagos State Government still battling isolated inferno in some of the affected buildings on the midday of Thursday.

At least, 14 multi-storey buildings were completely razed to rubble in the incident allegedly caused by reckless handling of flammable materials by some traders.

Sanwo-Olu, in company of top Government officials, visited the fire site to assess the situation and met with victims.

Although the Governor had directed full investigation into the immediate cause of the fire; he said unapproved and failed structures in the market area will be pulled down.

Arguments, however, ensued between the traders and some residents over the cause of the incident.

Some traders were said to be dealing in illegal sale of combustible liquids, which were stored in warehouses attached to the affected buildings. Some believe the fire was an act of sabotage allegedly arising from the rivalry between some of the traders.

Sanwo-Olu said the Government would come hard on structures and properties not conforming to the Government’s guidelines across markets. The Governor directed Dosunmu market to remain shut until the full report of the incident is ready.

Sanwo-Olu decried conversion of residential buildings to warehouses without approval from the Government, noting that preliminary report indicted owners of buildings in the market.

The Governor was taken aback by the reckless storage of combustible materials in the market buildings despite extended warnings and advocacy by the State Government on safe way to store such items in harsh weather.

Sanwo-Olu said the market fire was preventable, but noted that “gross carelessness” in storage of the flammable materials supported the spread of the fire, which completely destroyed goods and assets worth millions.

He said: “We have just finished on-the-spot assessment of the very unfortunate and preventable fire disaster here in Dosunmu market. The fire started two days ago and first responders were activated immediately. We thought the incident could be brought under control with hours. Accesses were denied to first responders for couple of hours ; 48 hours after, the scene is still a live site. We still have isolated fire, making the scene an active site. This is a complete disaster and extremely unfortunate.

“This is the consequence of inaction and irresponsibility. Thankfully, no life has been lost, but the loss in property, assets and collateral damage could not be quantified. This market will be closed until when we are able to do full assessment and cleanup of this area. Without any iota of doubt, some other buildings are still going to go down. This is totally unacceptable. We will not allow a few people who will not comply with our rules and laws to put the lives of others in danger.

“This is a call to other markets; the Government will not shy away from its responsibilities. We will come really hard on structures and properties that will not conform to our guidelines. There will be zero tolerance for reckless behaviour in the markets . We will not fold our hands and watch another one happen. A lot of residential buildings that were approved as residences were converted to warehouses, including people’s living rooms. Materials that support spread of fire were stored in those buildings.”

After assessment of the fire site, Sanwo-Olu met with the residents and market stakeholders to share Government’s concerns and intention to regenerate the site.

The Governor also discussed support and intervention to put forward in assuaging the pain of the affected traders and getting them back on their feet.

Sanwo-Olu talked tough, noting that he would not condone laxity within the Physical Planning authorities responsible for oversight on the structural integrity on buildings.

The Governor directed the Ministry of Physical Planning and permit agencies to go after the structures not complying with the building codes and regulations.

“The Physical Planning authorities are going to be having difficult time with me over this incident. When I’m done with them, they will come on the streets. This incident has been happening too often and it is totally unacceptable. We can’t watch traders endangering the lives of others by putting generating sets on roof top and higher floors of buildings. This is not acceptable in residential buildings,” the Governor said.

The Iyaloja of the burnt market, Morufa Allison, recalled the incident, giving an explanation how the fire spread. She admitted flammable materials were illegally stored in some of the buildings, but pleaded with the Government to assist innocent victims

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