Since the morning of last Tuesday, the Ikate Elegushi New Settlement which is one of the sprawling communities fast springing up along Lekki-Ajah Expressway has been enveloped by grief and sorrow following the collapse of a five-storey building under construction, by Lekki Gardens, which left many people dead in the area. According to reports, the collapse took place few hours after a downpour. Initially, six people were confirmed dead on the spot but by the time the rescue operation ended by 7.20 pm on Thursday, the casualty figure had risen to 34. Most of the dead persons were labourers hired to work at the site. They had turned the uncompleted building into their temporary abode owing to their inability to raise money to rent houses within the Lekki- Ajah axis.
On Wednesday when the tragedy site was visited, rescue operation was going on, even as sympathizers and victims’ family members were wailing. Some were also praying that their beloved ones should be miraculously saved. As some dead bodies were being evacuated from the building, people burst into tears again. Several women were rolling on the floor, heaping curses on the developer handling the project.
One woman however, remained inconsolable amid the tumult. As she wailed and cried, she uttered repeatedly, “It is finished! my life is ruined! I have lost all that I’ve laboured for. What am I waiting for again?” She queried herself.
Speaking later with Saturday Sun after some sympathisers and relations had calmed her down, the woman who identified herself as Mrs Kemi Oduberu disclosed she lost her only son Yinka to the disaster.
According to her, 27-year old Yinka, a bricklayer had resumed work with Lekki Gardens about six months ago. As if she had premonition of his death, she had advised him to resign from the construction outfit when she learnt that her son was being owed almost six months salary.
“It was as if I had premonition that something tragic would happen to him. When I was told that he and some of his colleagues were being owed several months salary arrears, I told him to resign and join me in Ijebu-Ode. He told me they had promised to pay them on Tuesday, which was the same day he died alongside others in the collapsed building. Had he come back last Monday which I insisted that he should, this tragedy would have been averted. God, why me?” The distraught-looking woman asked nobody in particular.
Sobbing intermittently, the 51-year old widow who further revealed that she lost her husband October last year said her son’s death had added to her sorrow. “I pray that God will give me the strength to cope with this double tragedy. How I will cope? I don’t know. Yinka’s father died in October last year. When we lost his father, he was the one consoling me, promising to take care of me. He promised to do a lot of things for me, but see where everything has ended. All is vanity. I’m tired of everything about this life,” she lamented.
On what the family plans to do next, a relation of the widow, Aisha, chipped in that the main concern of the family is how to retrieve Yinka’s corpse for burial.
“We were told that we will have to complete the relevant procedure and after that, we will take the corpse back to Ijebu-Ode for burial. God knows everything. It is God that knows everything, we can’t question him. But it is sad that Yinka had to die this way. He would have been alive if they are not being owed by their employers. I want Lagos State government to take action on this tragedy, and ensure that those responsible for these avoidable deaths don’t go scot-free,” she pleaded.
Aisha who added that it would take a long time to erase the pains of Yinka’s death from the family said: “Yinka was a quiet young man, hard-working, energetic and full of life. It is sad and unbelievable that I have to describe him now in the past tense. How the mother will be able to cope, only God knows.”