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Ministry denies ill-fated school as proprietress allegedly flees

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Emergency personnel rescue a child at the site of a building which collapsed in Lagos on March 13, 2019. – At least 10 children were among scores of people missing on March 13, 2019 after a four-storey building collapsed in Lagos, with rescuers trying to reach them through the roof of the damaged structure. The children were attending a nursery and primary school on the top floor of the residential building when the structure collapsed. Police said they believed scores of people were trapped under the rubble. (Photo by SEGUN OGUNFEYITIMI / AFP)

Lagos State Ministry of Education has denied that Ohen Nursery and Primary School, Ita-Faji, Lagos Island, was paying levies and taxes to the state government.

This was sequel to the collapse of a three-storey building housing the school, in which about 20 people lost their lives with many injured still receiving treatment in various hospitals

Director of public affairs in the ministry, Mr. Adesegun Ogundeji, told The Guardian that the school was not only unregistered but also unknown to the ministry.

According to him, the school is one of those that ignore government’s advice and direction, knowing well that government cannot easily trace them.

He urged the public to report such schools to government.

Also, the national president of Association for Formidable Educational Development (AFED), an umbrella body for low-cost private schools in Nigeria, Mrs. Esther Dada, has said that the school was not registered with the organisation.

“We don’t have member school in Lagos Island,” she said.

Meanwhile, contrary to the rumour that the owner of the school died during the incident, a resident of the area, who pleaded anonymity, alleged that “the woman is on the run, as she understands the severe consequences of her deeds. The death rumour is to distract relevant agencies from tracing her.”

However, architects have called on governments at all levels to learn from the collapse of the Ita-Faji last Wednesday, which could have been avoided.

Speaking to The Guardian on the incident, immediate past president of Nigeria Institute of Architects (NIA), Mr. Tonye Braide, urged government to develop a governance framework to support the regeneration of cities to nip such tragedies in the bud.

Describing the incident as unfortunate, Braide lamented that the present governance structure of the building industry in Nigeria would open the floodgates to more building flops across the country, if not changed.

It is unfortunate that many lives will be lost until we can have the act of will to get it right, he said.

According to him, as the cities continue to grow, issues of poor housing and poor infrastructure must be addressed in inner city precincts.

As a solution to building collapse, Lagos State has asked house owners and developers, whose structures have been marked for demolition, to pull them down themselves.

The Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Rotimi Ogunleye, said failure to comply with the directive would lead to forfeiture of such property.

Commiserating with the affected families in the recent building collapse at Ita-Faji, Ogunleye sought the co-operation of the public in ridding the state of distressed structures.

But Braide warned that demolishing distressed buildings without alternatives might create a bigger social upheaval in the state, considering the shelter need of the people.


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