The last may not have been heard about the recent collapse of under construction seven story building in Banana Island, a highbrow residential neighborhood in Ikoyi, Lagos Island; as the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), has said that the Lagos State Government is to be blamed for the collapse of the building because it is within its jurisdiction to issue permits for the construction of buildings in the upper-class residential district.
The federal agency made the assertion in its reaction to a viral news item that claimed that the Lagos State Government had blamed the agency for the collapse of the building.
In a rejoinder by NIWA signed by General Manager, Corporate Affairs, NIWA, Jibril Darda’u; the Waterways Authority disclosed that the alleged false report, carried a distorted account of what transpired over the collapsed building in Banana Island. “In the said publication, the Lagos State Governor was quoted to have accused the Federal Government Agencies particularly the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) of being culpable in the incident of building collapse on the highbrow Banana Island. The Governor also described officials of NIWA to be reckless in the manner they issue permits without regard to the topography of the area. He further stated that the site of the collapsed building was not originally part of the Island’s plan.”
The Authority vehemently dissociated itself from the statements and allegations of the Lagos State Government over the collapsed building in Banana Island as contained in the said publication. Saying the information contained in the publication are false, baseless and a misrepresentation of the issues that led to the collapse of the building in Banana Island with intent of misleading members of the public regarding what had actually happened.
The statement noted that the Lagos State Government in the said publication admitted that it is the State Government’s responsibility to issue building approval. In the words of the Governor as quoted “… we have responsibility for building approval. All of the four buildings at the back never got our approval. This is an illegality that is real…” “In another admission by the Lagos State Governor, he specifically stated that some officials of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) are corrupt, stressing that they would be held responsible for the recent collapse of a seven story building on the island”.
Daurd’u noted that from the above statement of the governor, “it is glaringly clear that building permits are within the jurisdiction of State Governments of Nigeria including Lagos State. Therefore, where such permit is illegally obtained such faults or omission can only be attributed to the State Government that issued them and not the Federal Government or any of Its Agencies as in the instant case.”
He disclosed that the Authority is established by NIWA Act CAP N47 LFN 2004 and there is no provision in the said Act where the Authority is mandated by Law to Issue building permits/approvals and Certificate of Occupancy.
According to him, in compliance with its establishing Act, NIWA issues permits for “Use of Right of Way, activities within the Waterways of Nigeria, and reclamation.”
“The Authority never granted any license or permit in respect of the site where the collapse occurred,” Daurd’u reiterated.
Investigations carried out shows that the collapsed building was constructed on lines 15 and 16 of the original plan of Banana Island thus the said collapse building was not constructed on any subsequent extensions. The responsibility to inspect every stage of building construction remains that of Lagos State Government.
Meanwhile the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr George Moghalu has visited the site of the incident and ordered the immediate suspension of all reclamation activities within the Island pending the conclusion of the investigation ordered by the Lagos State Government.