In the heart of Ketu, Lagos, a once-thriving school-turned-residential building, known as Agboye Estate, has become a harrowing symbol of neglect and danger. The recent partial collapse of this mammoth structure on a somber Sunday afternoon sent shockwaves throughout the area, exposing a web of issues that led to this catastrophic incident.
As rain soaked the streets of Lagos, the building, housing over 800 rooms and hundreds of residents, initially caved in on a bleak Saturday afternoon. Torrential rainfall had wreaked havoc on the already compromised structure. Residents, already grappling with the wretched living conditions within the compound, tried desperately to salvage their belongings.
But tragedy had more in store. On Sunday, as hope of recovery hung by a thread, the building crumbled again, this time destroying another structure within the compound before collapsing entirely. Panic rippled through the area, forcing hundreds of families and individuals to flee, leaving behind not just their homes, but their shattered dreams.
A History of Neglect
The sad tale of Agboye Estate dates back to 2014 when investigative reports unveiled the horrifying living conditions of its tenants. These residents contended with snakes, scorpions, and other perilous creatures due to stagnant sewage water at the rear of the building. The overcrowded, crumbling blocks offered no respite, with at least 12 rooms sharing a single toilet and bathroom. Imagine, 24 people relying on one bathroom.
Adding to their misery, tenants were forbidden from using power generators, electric kettles, air conditioners, or even hosting important social gatherings by the landlord, Onamo Agboye. And the ultimate blow – the compound’s only entrance locked tight at 11:00 p.m. daily, leaving inhabitants feeling like prisoners in their own homes.
Government Intervention and Neglect
Following the damning 2014 report, the Lagos State Government partially sealed the building. However, this sanction was shockingly lifted a few days later, casting a shadow of doubt over the commitment to ensuring residents’ safety.
Now, in 2023, the landlord of Agboye Estate has gone into hiding following the catastrophic collapse. It raises the question of accountability and responsibility in the face of such clear danger.
Lagos State Government’s Response
The Lagos State Building Control Agency (LABSCA) has vowed to swiftly remove all distressed structures within the Agboye Compound in Ketu. Yet, they revealed a disheartening fact: occupants of the compound ignored several notices issued before the partial collapse occurred. LABSCA’s General Manager, Gbolahan Oki, lamented this negligence, stating that the agency had served quit notices to the residents in advance.
Oki emphasized that the structural integrity of about eight buildings within the compound was compromised, making demolition imperative to prevent further casualties.
The heart-wrenching incident at Agboye Estate serves as a stark reminder of the dire need for proper oversight and regulation in urban development. It underscores the tragic consequences of neglecting the safety and well-being of residents, turning a once-thriving school into a symbol of despair. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families, and all those affected by this avoidable tragedy, as we hope for a future where such calamities are prevented, not mourned.