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General News Sat, 28 Feb 2015

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Structural defect did not cause Synagogue hostel collapse – Contractor

The contractor who built the collapsed Synagogue Church Of All Nations’ six-storey guest house, Mr. Akingbola Fatiregun, said on Thursday that the building was constructed following best practices.

Fatiregun also said though the foundation of the building was meant for a six-storey building, it was constructed in such a way that it could have conveniently supported four additional floors.

The contractor, whose company, Hardrock Construction and Engineering Limited executed the project, therefore said he was shocked to learn that the building collapsed.

Fatiregun appeared before the Lagos coroner, Magistrate O.A. Komolafe, probing the cause of death of about 116 persons, who perished in the collapsed building on September 12, 2014.

He said his company had existed for 11 years and had carried out major projects not only in Nigeria but in Ghana, Niger Republic and the United States, adding that the SCOAN’s collapsed building was not due to structural defect.

Fatiregun said, “On my visit to the site of the collapsed building, I observed that the pattern of the collapse was inconsistent with structural defect and suggested that the collapse could have been caused by other factors.

“Structural failures have peculiar ways of falling but this one was unusual. From my observation, the building came down symmetrically as if it was guided. The fall appeared as if a method of bringing down a building was applied.”

Buttressing his position, the contractor pointed out that during a joint post-collapse inspection of the debris by himself and the officials of the Ministry of Lands and Housing, he observed that the foundation of the building was still intact.

Taking the coroner through the construction process, the contractor said his company supplied the manpower and the equipment used while the SCOAN procured and supplied the building materials such as sand, cement, quarry and reinforcement.

Fatiregun, however, testified that as the expert, his team ensured to subject the materials to quality test and confirmed that the materials met the required standards.

He said the architectural design of the building was done by a separate company, adding that the construction process was split into two phases.

According to him, the first phase of the construction, from the foundation to the fourth floor, was concluded in June 2010, while the second phase wherein the the last two floors were added, was concluded in September 2013.

Fatiregun added that upon the completion of each of the floors, the supervising firm, which made the architectural design, always inspected and gave approval before the following floor was embarked upon.

Fatiregun said the founder of SCOAN, Prophet T.B. Joshua, had no direct involvement in the construction of the collapsed building.

While being cross-examined by the counsel for the Lagos State Government, Mr. Akingbolan Adeniran, the contractor, however, revealed that the collapsed building had no permit from the government.

Fatiregun also said the Lagos State Building Control Agency was not consulted before the building was constructed.

He, however, maintained that the building did not collapse because it had no prior approval.

Source: From A Correspondent

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