TB Joshua engineer says foundation solid
AN engineer for a Nigerian church where 116 people were killed in a building collapse has ruled out weak foundations as the cause of the tragedy.
Most of the victims were South Africans.Joseph Ibikunle Folayan, who was hired to test the soil at the Synagogue Church of All Nations’ sprawling site in Nigeria’s financial hub Lagos, said the foundations were strong.
“There is no evidence on [the] ground or in theory to support the theory that the six-storey [building] failed because of weak foundations,” he told a coroner’s inquest probing the collapse.
“As far as the soil test is concerned, the acceptable standards were met. Therefore, this thing [the collapse] is not due to foundation failure.”
Church leader TB Joshua, a self-proclaimed miracle worker and televangelist, has blamed sabotage for the tragedy but the inquest has been told that shoddy building work may have been to blame.
The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria has told the hearing that the build- ing, which housed foreign guests of the church, could not support the addition of extra floors.
“The columns [pillars] and beams were not strong enough. The design of the building was not properly done,” Olusegun Oyenuga, an engineer with the council, said in evidence on 12 March.
“In fact, the design was not handled by a qualified structural engineer,” he added.
The engineer who supervised the construction, however, ruled out structural defects in the September 2014 collapse, which saw 81 South Africans lose their lives.
In his final report to the inquest, Lagos state commissioner for physical planning, Olutoyin Ayinde, told the court that the collapsed building did not have government approval.
Planning records did not include the building and the church had failed to submit architectural designs and drawings for it, despite repeated requests, he added.
The inquest was adjourned until 8 April and the coroner is expected to give his ruling on the cause of the collapse in the coming weeks.
Joshua has failed to turn up to give evidence on four separate occasions at the inquest and is appealing a high court order that he testify.
TB Joshua (left) and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan inspect the collapsed building last September.