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A Country Trapped Under Rubble -By Kene Obiezu

According to documents obtained from the Building Collapse Prevention Guild 271 building collapses were  recorded in the country in the last ten years with as many as 115 of the cases occurring in Lagos State.

What do standards look like in Nigeria after all? Where are the measuring rods? What do people aspire to? Where do people see as their destination, or at least what do people see as their journey in Nigeria?

In a country that aspires to elite status in the pantheon of developed nations it  beggars belief that Nigeria allows itself to be continuously served a diet of crumbs when its table should be full of ambrosia.

In a country where everything is a problem, it is perhaps only  little surprising that everyday new problems continue to spring up with potency to torment Nigerians alongside old problems.

Fuel queues have recently reappeared to tag along the  freshly squeezed queues for cash in many banks. Add these to Nigeria’s ponderous bureaucracy which has been around for a very long time and it would seem at once that there is a deliberate attempt to suffocate Nigerians.

Living in Nigeria stopped being enjoyable long time ago. The drudgery hits especially hard  these days as people do all they can to scrape by and survive till the next day. Nothing is guaranteed in the country, not even the simplest things that were hitherto taken for granted. These days, everything evokes a massive struggle as citizens  desperately try to escape the massive stranglehold  of poverty, insecurity, dereliction and dysfunction.

In many ways, the metaphor of a collapsing house is  perfect for Nigeria – a compromised country that is primed to collapsed. However, Nigeria’s recent experience of collapsing buildings has not been metaphorical at all. If anything, it has been raw, rasping and reprehensible.

It was mostly in Lagos last year that  building after building collapsed trapping many people in their ruins. While some lost their lives in the most agonizing way possible, others were left to pick up the pieces of their  shattered lives as surely as rubbles of the collapsed buildings were left for machines and their operators.

It is just the second month of a new year, but it would appear that Nigeria is yet to see the last about  collapsed buildings or  hear the last of its  sickening crash.

 On Thursday December 2,2023 a two-storey commercial complex still under Construction in the Gwarimpa area of Abuja collapsed collapsed killing two people and trapping many others under its rubble.

The collapse brought back memories of the building collapse which killed two persons and trapped many others in the Kubwa area of Abuja on August 25 2022.

It is worrisome that this continues to happen and the fact that buildings continue to collapse with alarming frequency suggests that not enough is being done to check what has become a disastrous challenge.

Lagos State has seen a spike in the number of building collapses like the one that claimed no less than eight lives in the Ebutte Metta area of the state in May 2022.

Since 2005, at least 152 buildings have collapsed in Lagos, according to a South African university researcher investigating construction disasters.

According to documents obtained from the Building Collapse Prevention Guild 271 building collapses were  recorded in the country in the last ten years with as many as 115 of the cases occurring in Lagos State.

Perhaps the most  notable of the cases was the collapse of a part of a multiple-storey building inside the Synagogue Church of All Nations, SCOAN, which left more than 80 worshipers dead, while several others were critically injured.

The structure, which reportedly collapsed at 12.45 pm on September 12, 2014, served as a guest house for foreigners, who usually thronged to the church in search of miracles.

 A slew of factors have been blamed for the constant collapses bordering on ineptitude ranging from excessive loading, use of substandard materials, faulty design, poor workmanship and weak foundation. Yet, what is clear beyond everything else is that Nigeria can no longer afford what is an ugly stain on the face of the country.

Whenever another building collapses, Nigeria is plunged into more troubling questions and forced to plumb afresh the depths of misery.

It should not continue. It does not have to.

Kene Obiezu

[email protected]



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