15 min read

Ife Adewole


It is no longer strange any more in Nigeria, buildings have been collapsing as far back as the 70s. For instance, 27 people lost their lives in October 1974 when a multi-storey building under construction in Mokola in Ibadan collapsed.

In August 1977, about three years after the first incident, 28 people were killed when a residential building in Barnawa Housing Estate, Kaduna collapsed.

In June 1990, between 50 and 55 people lost their lives when a three-storey building collapsed in Port Harcourt.

It is now glaring that the issue of collapsed buildings is not new in the country and if nothing is done to curtail the incidence, it will get to a stage where collapsed buildings will not make it to the news desk anymore.

The rate at which buildings collapse in this country from 2010 till date is outrageous, despite repeated calls by victims; experts and many other Nigerians, there seem to be no end to the collapses.

A Lagos based engineer, Engr. Tunde Okunmoyinbo said “Building collapse can be caused by many factors, the most common ones are improper structural design and inadequate supervision. The supervision part is the absolute specifications provided by a competent engineer through structural design.

Then other factors like making use of inferior materials in terms of quality. For instance, iron rod has different grades. The local ones are not as strong as the imported ones in terms of the tensile strength.

Then, compromise by the engineer and/or contractor for maximizing profit.

Then negligence as well. Prior to building collapse, it must have been giving warning signs like column buckle, cracks etc. The ideal thing to do is to vacate the occupants and demolish the building or do underpinning.

Such impunity is very common in Lagos Island and Ebute Meta, Yaba axis of Lagos State.

A foundation designed for a bungalow or a suspended floor, will be increased by one or two additional floors without first doing underpinning.

Most of these buildings do not have approval of LABSCA (Lagos State Building Control Agency). They might overlook or turn a blind eye, but they will never give a written approval for such construction.

Building collapse can be prevented by engaging professionals in the built environment who have been trained in the art and science of building CONSTRUCTION.

Most importantly, civil engineers who have been trained in the structural behaviour of building elements have a clearer understanding of how the active and passive forces within a building operate. As such, they should be given preference when it comes to building construction especially for storey buildings.” Okunmoyinbo said.

Collapsed Primary School in Itafaji, Lagos Island.

On Wednesday, March 13, 2019 the same disaster happened at the Itafaji area of Lagos Island, this time around 50 innocent souls was said to have been rescued and the number of children who have lost their lives is yet to be ascertained as at the time of gathering this report.

Erinoluwa Akinmoladun, son of the owner of the collapsed building, who was also seen assisting in the rescue operations said he noticed the weakness in the structure of the building that morning and alerted his father without knowing that the building was going to collapse.

Just as the above expert said, negligence is one of the reasons several souls has been destabilised.

On Tuesday, March 11, 2016, similar tragedy struck in Lekki, Lagos as another building went down on about 50 people.

Construction Workers trapped in a collapsed building in Lekki.

On September 12, 2014, the synagogue building collapse which happens to be the worst in the history of this country, it happened in Ikotun, Lagos.

On that fateful day, a crowded six-storey guest house belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed, trapping about 300 people.

By the time rescue operations were concluded, the death toll stood at 116 with over 100 others injured. Most of those killed in the collapse (85) were South Africans.

Crumbles of collapsed Synagogue Church Building at Ikotun, Lagos.

On Tuesday, March 8, 2016, Lagos was in the news for the wrong reason once more. Another building had collapsed, tragedy had struck again.

Around 3am, shortly after a windstorm, a five-storey building under construction at Lekki Gardens Horizon 1, in the Lekki Phase 1 area of Lagos collapsed, killing no fewer than 34 persons and injured several others.

Most of those killed were workers. However, a woman, her six-month-old baby and her husband were among the dead. The woman had reportedly gone to the site to collect money from her husband when the building collapsed.

The collapse raised many questions; and the Lagos State government believed the tragedy could have been avoided as the building had been sealed earlier by the Lagos State Building Control Agency.

On July 18, 2006, 28 people lost their lives when a four-storey building, popularly known as ‘Titanic’, collapsed in the Ebute Meta Area of Lagos.

The building was a block of 36 flats, which housed about 180 people, according to reports.

Hours after the collapse, over 50 people were rescued with many more to follow, but more than 20 of the occupants were not so lucky.

The building was reportedly barely three years old at the time it collapsed with the Lagos State governor at the time, Bola Tinubu, promising to sanction those responsible for the faulty construction, which was attributed to the collapse.

A four-storey uncompleted building at No. 2 Ikoli Street, Off, Gimbiya Street in Garki, brings the Federal Capital Territory’s name into this list.

When the building collapsed in August 2010, over 30 people were inside. Twenty-one of them died and nine were injured. Some reports put the death toll at 23. While at least two more uncompleted buildings have collapsed in Abuja since then, none has matched the 2010 collapse in terms of casualties.

Trapped people in Abuja collapsed building

On a Sunday evening in September 2013, Abu Naima Primary and Secondary School in Bukuru, Jos South Local Government Area collapsed. 10 of about 30 pupils, who were said to be mostly below 10 years old, were killed when the two-storey school building collapsed.

The National Emergency Management Agency attributed the collapse to structural defects, saying the building was originally a bungalow before it was converted to a two-storey building. It’s foundation could not support the weight in the end.

In July 2013, Ebute Meta suffered another building collapse. A three-story building, which had been marked for demolition a year earlier, collapsed killing seven people.

The building, located at Oloto Street, Ebute Meta, collapsed in the early hours of the morning, trapping over 10 people. A pregnant woman, a nursing mother, a one-year-old baby and a couple were among those that lost their lives.

Rescue operation in Itafaji, Lagos Island.

Building collapses were not limited to major cities in Nigeria alone.

In May 2013, a building under construction in the Agbama area of Umuahia, Abia State collapsed leaving up to seven people dead. The incident, which occurred in the night left several other trapped and it took the efforts of the Red Cross, a construction firm and security agencies to limit the death toll.

In December 2011, an abandoned church building collapsed in Angwan Dosa, Kaduna collapsed, leaving five people dead.

The abandoned building collapsed when about 25 workers hired to demolish it were working, killing four of them instantly. A fifth worker gave up at the hospital.

The church had reportedly been abandoned as a result of the 2011 post-election violence.

Rescue operation at the collapsed building in Kaduna State

In March 2006, the top nine floors of a 21-storey building belonging to the Bank of Industry, which was located on the popular Broad Street, Lagos Island.

The collapse, which occurred days after fire had gutted two floors in the building, killed two people and injured 23 others.

The incident was attributed to heavy winds and rain, especially after the fire weakened the structure.

What was left of the building was brought down in a controlled demolition by a team of foreign demolition experts in 2008.

On July 11, 2013 an old three-storey building on Hadeja Road in the heart of Kaduna metropolis collapsed.

A middle-aged woman was hit the most by the collapse of the building, said to be up to a 100 years old at the time it went down.

Mrs. Medinat Abdullraman’s six children were in the building when it collapsed. Only three of them survived. Those that died were aged between nine and 14.

The collapse occurred hours after a building collapsed on Oloto Street, Ebute Meta, Lagos and killed seven people.

One of the Pupil in the Collapsed Building in Itafaji, Lagos Island.

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