“The death of a beloved is an amputation,” a quote by C.S. Lewis illustrates the agony of those who lost their loved ones in the collapse of the three-storey building at Ita-Faaji area of Lagos Island.
Though it’s been three weeks now and three buildings had collapsed in the same axis, but the crumbled at Massey Street, where about 20 people were reportedly killed cannot be easily forgotten.
When The Guardian visited the axis again in the course of the week, it was evident that the relatives of the victims were still in trauma that would take a long time for them to get over. The incidence has indeed left unforgettable scars in their hearts. A once bubbling area has suddenly lost its alluring mien.
Speaking with our correspondent, Mr. Sunday Adeyemo, a resident of the collapsed building had two of his children, Kehinde and Taiwo who would clock eight years old in May were pupils of Oheny Nursery and Primary school trapped in the building.
The father, who spoke in sobered and shaky voice noted that he had not anticipated that he would suffer the loss of a child. Taiwo had died in the incidence, he disclosed. Adeyemo, who spoke to our correspondent in Yoruba language explained that the tragedy remained a shock to the family.
Sorrowfully, he noted that Kehinde has been asking questions about the whereabouts of her twin sister, and the parent have been telling her cock-and-bull stories.
With sadness, he narrated the sad event. “I used to live in the building that collapsed. The day the incident happened, I had left the house but my children Taiwo and Kehinde were pupils of Oheny Nursery and Primary school, in the edifice.
“They are seven years old. Their mother who is my wife and the other children who are in secondary school had also gone out. Around 09:50 am, I received a call from a friend who lives in the neighborhood, informing me that where I lived had collapsed. I was dumbfounded; I couldn’t believe my ears.
I rushed home because my children were pupils of the school in the building. When I got there, it was true; the building had collapsed and efforts were being made to rescue the victims. My children were also among the victims.
Kehinde was rescued first but she kept on mentioning her twin sister’s name, she was saying, ‘Taiwo is there,’ repeatedly.
“Unfortunately, Taiwo suffered head injuries, and she passed on immediately we got to the hospital. Kehinde got injured at the backside though she is still at the general hospital but she is getting better.
“Sadly, Kehinde have been asking for her twin sister, but my wife and I had to tell her that she has been taken out of the country for treatment, that is what we have been using to pet her. My believe is that as time goes on she would forget the incidence.”
Adeyemo added that Taiwo had always told the family that she would like to be a teacher, “but unfortunately, her dreams would not be achieved,” he said.
Also speaking with our correspondent, Mrs. Idera Babatunde, whose daughter was a pupil of the nursery school and trapped in the collapsed building and was rescued noted that her daughter had suffered a lot of trauma after she left the hospital.
According to her, though her daughter has been enrolled in Waslat nursery and primary school, it took a lot of efforts to convince her to go back to school.
She added that the girl had insisted that she wasn’t going back to school but a philanthropist stood by her to convince her.
“After she got healed, I noticed that she does not want to go back to school, but I had to encourage her that such incidence would not happen again. Some people came here to interview her and she insisted that she wasn’t going to further her education. Those people posted my daughter’s narrative on the social media that was where a philanthropist who we knew from nowhere took up her case.
“I was contacted and he came to pay for my daughter’s school fees and everything she needed to get back to school coupled with words of encouragement. Today, I thank God that my daughter has been enrolled in another private school.”
But for Olumide Afolayan, who was also a pupil of Oheny is yet to get back to school because he has not gotten over the shock. His mother stated that efforts to enroll him have been fruitless as he is yet to recover from the trauma of the incidence.
“He is still scared, I mean very scared. He is afraid of being alone, one would have to stand by him every time. The panic is still in him. They were three, at the place he was trapped; the other two who were badly injured are still in the hospital. According to the person that rescued him, it was a pillar that protected him. I think before he can get back to school, it would take time.”
Also, Ibidun Ayen, who lost her mother in the incidence narrated her ordeal.
“I went to the balcony to pick a towel, when I noticed the landlord and another woman, an Alhaja. She was complaining to the landlord that our house was tilting and that some parts had already started collapsing.
“There is a school on the third floor. I stay on the second floor and could see the Alhaja and the landlord as they came to complain to the woman who owned the school, Aunty Esther, telling her that the house was beginning to collapse. As a result, Aunty Esther offered to follow both of them downstairs to see what they were talking about.
“Aunty Esther and the woman went downstairs and immediately they did, I saw the landlord and his wife. They all came down and went to the back to see the affected area. The woman insisted that Aunty Esther go up to bring the kids out of the building so that immediate repairs can start. Aunty Esther had just taken a few steps up the flight of stairs, when the building collapsed. Our landlord survived, but is at large as no one has heard from him since then.
“I was on the balcony when it happened. I noticed that it was vibrating and was sinking. It didn’t really collapse as it felt like it was sinking. As it went down, the blocks were not solid, so they crumbled into dust. People were indoors when it happened. Those that were sleeping were caught in the rubble and many of such people died. My mum was also there, but was rescued.
“She died when she was being transferred from the General Hospital to Ikeja. She died en route to the hospital. We buried her on Monday, because they didn’t release her corpse on time,”
“I am grateful to all the boys in the area who responded immediately. I was one of the first people to be rescued alongside a few children. The kids who died are more than those who survived. The tenants who were at home who survived the incident were no more than four.
“However, of all of them, I’m the only one who has made a nearly-full recovery. I thank God that when they were removing the blocks, all I sustained were injuries on my face, legs and thigh. None of us expected it, but thank God it didn’t happen in the night when people were asleep as rescue would have been difficult.”