Synagogue building has no approval, says commissioner

Synagogue building has no approval, says commissioner

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The Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban
Development, Oluwatoyin Ayinde,
has said that the collapsed six-storey
building of the Synagogue Church of All Nations had no government
approval.


Ayinde stated this on Thursday while giving testimony before the coroner probing the cause of the building collapse.

No fewer than 116 persons died while several others sustained varying degrees of injuries in the September 12, 2014 tragedy.

Ayinde, in his testimony, said investigations conducted by his ministry,
following the accident, revealed that though the six-storey building
had a record of survey, it however had no approval of the government.

He said the only thing found in the records was an approval for the
church’s main auditorium, adding that though that auditorium has now
been raised to eight floors, the approval given was only for five
floors.

The commissioner who described all unapproved structures in the church’s
premises as illegal, stated that there was need to investigate what he
described as unusual practices going on within the church premises.

Ayinde wondered why, for instance, one of the columns supporting the
additional three floors placed on the main auditorium had to take off
from the top of a water tank.

He said, “The approval that we saw was in the name of the Syangogue
Church of All Nations dated January 26, 2004 but that approval was just
for the main auditorium and one of the things we discovered was that it
was an approval for a five-floor development. But on our visit to the
site, we discovered that the building had been taken to eight floors; we
do not have the records of the additional floors, making those floors
illegal construction.

“Did we see anything on the collapsed building? No. In our records the collapsed building has no approval.”

He added, “I’d like to say that with the additional structure we saw on
site, we are inclined to express some fears. We have seen, for example,
that one of the columns is not taking off from the ground floor, but it
is resting on an existing water tank and I don’t know whether any
engineer certified that construction. This needs to be investigated
because it is an unusual practice to start a column middle way.”

While expressing doubts over the claim by the church that the collapse
of the building was connected with some aircrafts that had hovered over
it shortly before the accident, Ayinde stated that his investigations
revealed that the distance between the said aircraft and the top of the
building was one and a half the lenght of a football pitch.

He further stated that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority had written
a letter to his ministry showing a request by the Nigerian Airforce
that some of their aircrafts were going to be having rehearsals at that
time around that place.

He said, “What we wanted to know was that which aircrafts were flying at
that particular time? Two, at what altitude were they flying? And
three, what was the coordinate of their flight path?”

Ayinde added, “They sent us a response first, showing that there was a
request by the Nigerian Airforce that there would be some rehearsals of
some aircrafts.

“From that letter, we gathered that all of the aircrafts were flying at
an altitude of 1,100 feet above the sea level; if you convert that into
floors, you will be given about 109 or 110 floors from the sea level.
Deduct six floors of the building from 109 floors, you will still have
the aircraft flying at about 103 floors from above the building. That
we were able to infer.

“Secondly, by the time we plotted the graph using the Flight Path Swath,
we discovered that the minimum distance that the aircraft went down
close to that area was 137 metres, that is almost one and a half the
length of a football pitch from one goal post to the other. That was how
far the minimum aircraft was and the maximum was about 288 metres
away.”

Ayinde, who insisted that the cause of the collapse was lack of planning
and structural defect, said Nigerians need to learn from the sad
incident.

He said, “Because the objective of this coroner is to ensure that we
prevent such occurrence in the future, it would be necessary to have
Nigerians, not just Lagosians, know that construction is a science.
Nobody becomes a contractor because his father was a contractor and you
don’t become an expert in building because you were there when they were
building it. It would be necessary for Nigerians to first recognise
that construction is science.”

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