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Burnt Mandilas building will remain shut for structural integrity test – Lagos govt

Burnt Mandilas building will remain shut for structural integrity test – Lagos govt
  • PublishedJanuary 23, 2024

The Lagos State Government has said that the Mandilas Building on Lagos Island, gutted by fire at the weekend, will remain shut indefinitely, pending the conclusion of structural integrity test to ascertain its habitable status before it can be re-open for public use.

Recall that a raging fire gutted the popular 16-storey Mandilas Building, located on Broad Street, Lagos Island, destroying items and properties worth several millions of naira in the process.

According to eyewitnesses, the incident occurred at about 1.15 pm and started from a warehouse on the first floor of the building before it spread to other floors.

Giving an update on the incident, Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Oluyinka Olumide, while describing it as unfortunate, added that it was “avoidable.”

According to Olumide, “The Mandilas building gutted by fire over the weekend will have to undergo a structure integrity test to ascertain its habitable status before it can be re-open for public use.”

This came as 16,700 traders were affected by the fire that engulfed five floors of the popular 16- storey Mandilas building on Broad Street, Sunday, with goods worth several millions destroyed.

As at yesterday, the cause of the inferno that started from one of the warehouses on the ground floor was attributed to technical fault.

Meanwhile, all the businessmen and women in the building comprising 450 shops, 30 offices, two hotels and five restaurants were evacuated on Monday, by officials of the Lagos State Building Control Agency , LASBCA to enable them carry out an integrity test of the building.

Some of the officials who spoke with newsmen on the condition of anonymity disclosed that the building might be pulled down if it failed the test.

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Iya Oja of Atunwase International Market , Mandilas, Alhaja Adeniji Rashidat who briefed officials of National Emergency Management Agency,NEMA and LASBCA , who were assessing the damages and their impact , disclosed that the fire started at about 11 am , on the first floor, where an electric wielding was going on.

In an interview with journalists, South West Coordinator, NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye , disclosed that the Mandilas building fire also affected surrounding market stalls at Atunwase International Market with equal extensive damages as the main complex.

He said “ We had to wait till today (yesterday) to assess the damage so as to give an exact figure , since the fire had been put out.

“ However, officials of the Lagos State Safety Commission and Building Control Agency were on ground to assess the integrity of all buildings at the scene.

“All structures have been locked down to prevent access to the shop for the safety of traders and the public. NEMA therefore enjoins Nigerians to be safety conscious in their activities to protect their lives and property”.

Other agencies sighted at the scene of the Mandilas Building fire accident included the Nigeria Police, Lagos State Fire Service, Red Cross, Lagos Neighborhood Safety Corp and the Lagos Island Local Government Sanitation unit.

Traders lament

Most of the traders of the affected storey building lamented their losses .One of them identified as Agu Versace estimated the worth of goods that were destroyed at N10 billion.

He added that his brother’s inventory was worth N2.5 billion.

Another trader, Mrs Ngozi Chigozie, said ,”My husband owned a shop in the building, where we sold textiles. If the fire had not occurred on Sunday, most of us would have been able to salvage some goods. But our goods were burnt to ashes. We lost over N25 million.

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On his part, Mr Ochem Nwogu, said he only resumed on Monday from the yuletide break , only to be greeted with such tragedy.

He said, “I resumed sales on Monday last week to recoup what I spent in the village. The most painful aspect was that a customer was to come and clear sixty percent of my goods on Monday , January 2024 , only for everything to go down the drain before the due date. I lost N28.5 million”.

However, others whose shops were not burnt but were forced to evacuate the building to avoid further disaster, lamented that it would affect their business.

A woman who simply identified herself as Iya Modinat , was seen engaging the services of some youths to evacuate her goods from one of the shops.

She said, “ It is so unfortunate that such a tragedy would occur in January. More painful is the fact that I will have to pay daily for the warehouse I am moving my goods to. Getting one is very difficult because some of the buildings here are still under construction , which makes available space expensive”.

Demolition of shanties

Speaking on demolition exercise, he said the state government through the State Building Control Agency, LABSCA, has commenced the removal of shops and shanties built on roads and setbacks within the Lagos Island Business District, CBD.

Olumide said the exercise aimed at creating easy access to high rising buildings and offices in the area especially during emergency periods and also to create link roads for vehicle movement to decongest traffic situations in the area.

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According to him, the removal exercise was long overdue to open up access roads and streets within the Lagos Island CBD for easy access by rescue operators during emergency situations.

He disclosed that the removal of shanties and illegal shops built on access points leading to high rise buildings and offices would be extended to other parts of the state in line with the mega city status as envisaged by Mr. Babajide Governor.

“Shanties and makeshift shops have no place in the THEMES PLUS agenda of Mr. Governor and therefore are not allowed anymore in markets as the government has provided designated markets, shops and outlets for traders to do their business instead of coming onto the roads.

“All corridors leading to commercial and residential high-rise buildings across the state have to be cleared to allow for emergency services at all times.”

.”Mandilas fire started when landlord was increasing floors of 15-storey building — Shop owner

Also, the General Manager, LABSCA, Arc Gbolahan Oki, decried the negative impact the age long practice of blocking on roads and street by traders has on easy movement of vehicles and inability of emergency services deployed during critical situations to function and have easy access to where they are needed.

He noted with dismay the ugly situation which continuously plays out whenever there are fire outbreaks within the markets on the island business districts as fire trucks find it extremely difficult to get to their target to deploy firefighting equipment in those areas in good time.

Written By
Regina Robinson

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