Some policemen and their families escaped being crushed on Monday night when a two-storey building in the Pedro Police Barracks, Somolu, Lagos, collapsed.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the building, which served as the kitchen, bathroom and toilet extension, collapsed at about 8.30pm when most of the residents were in their sitting rooms and bedrooms.
A resident, who identified herself simply as Faith, explained that the collapse was not surprising considering the dilapidated state of the barracks.
Faith, wife of a sergeant in the barracks, said, “It was around 8.30pm Monday evening. We just heard a rumble as if an earthquake had occurred. When we rushed out, we saw that a two-storey building, which is an extension of the main building, had collapsed with the staircases. We were using the collapsed building as our bathrooms and toilets, while a two-bedroom apartment on the ground floor was occupied by two families. What saved us was that many people were already in their sitting rooms and bedrooms. Otherwise, there would have certainly been casualties.
“The noise was so loud that the people living outside the police barracks came in to see whether an explosion had taken place. For now, some of us have started packing because we do not know which building is the next. As you can see, the state of the buildings are not different from one another.”
Our correspondent, who was at the site of the collapse on Tuesday , gathered that no fewer than 27 families were affected by the incident. According to the residents, each family has at least four members.
About 25 residents from different families were seen bringing out their property down through some ropes since the staircases had collapsed. While this went on, others were seen trying to recover lost property in the debris.
Another resident, who identified himself as Charles Averikson, urged the Federal Government to renovate the buildings in the barracks.
He said, “We want the government to come to our rescue. This building is the first victim of government’s negligence, we do not know which is the next. You can see that people are already packing out because we suspect another collapse. I was born and brought up here. You know collapses are common, especially as we enter the rainy season. We thank God the building did not collapse in the morning during our bath.
“Unfortunately, it is not that we do not pay. About N20,000 is being deducted from my dad’s salary every month. We also pay electricity and water bills. Why then should government neglect and fail to maintain the buildings here?”
When our correspondent left the area by 1.30pm, a rescue van belonging to the National Emergency Management Agency came into the barracks. Three officials of the agency then proceeded to the collapsed structure to evaluate the extent of damage.
The Nigeria Police Force Police Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, could not be reached on the telephone and a text message sent to the phone had yet to be replied as of press time.
The NEMA spokesperson, South-west Zone, Ibrahim Farinloye, said efforts were on to evacuate the residents.
He said, “A building collapsed at the Pedro Police Station Barracks. No one was trapped and there was no casualty. The occupants of a block of 27 units, who are families of serving police officers, have been evacuated. The building collapsed due to its weak structure.”