Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. John Bazia, has claimed that the collapse of a seven-storey building in Port Harcourt on November 23, this year, was as a result of over 700 bags of cement stacked in it.
Bazia revealed this in Port Harcourt, to a five-man commission of inquiry constituted by the state government to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the collapse that claimed many lives.
The commissioner who appeared as a witness to the rescue team during the incident, said it was discovered that about 700 bags of cement were kept on the second floor of the collapsed building.
He stated that it was wrong for such load to be left in a building that was under construction, adding that the 700 bags of cement might be the cause of the incident.
“I can assure you that all those who were alive were rescued. Thirty-one persons were alive while 17 people died. It took us over two weeks to get to the basement of the building.
“I was informed by one of the workers at the site that 700 bags of cement were kept on the second floor. This load may have caused it. It is not good to keep such load in a building that is still under construction,” he disclosed.
Meanwhile, Commissioner for Urban Development and Physical Planning, Dr. Reason Onya, has admitted that the building permits were approved in 2014, stating that he only revalidated the documents.
Onya, who had stepped aside after the incident for integrity sake, stated that at the point of revalidation of the building documents, the original files domiciled in the state ministry, could not be found, adding that he relied on the approval number found in the office.
He added that the ministry monitored the project until the incident occurred, adding that the approval followed stipulated professional principles.
However, the chairman of the commission, Justice Adolphus Enebeli, had stated that the body was given 18 terms of reference, adding that it would also make recommendation for the punishment for anyone found culpable in the incident.