PROPERTY Mudslide kills two in Maitama construction site … FCTA orders investigation
Mudslides, also known as debris flows or mudflows, are a common type of fastmoving landslides that are caused by disturbances in the natural stability of a slope. They can happen after heavy rains, droughts, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), mudslides can occur at any time of the year, regardless of weather conditions. And they can strike without any prior warning signs.
Also, poor construction and reckless modification of land - such as not draining an area properly before building on or near it - can also create the conditions ripe for a mudslide.
Most of the deaths recorded in mudslides were due to people being buried by debris flows from slopes.
Though mudslide is not common in Nigeria, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) experienced one last Tuesday evening in which two construction workers died.
The incident occurred at (Plot 3333), Mississippi Street, Maitama, a highbrow district of Abuja.
FCT minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, visited the scene of the incident on Tuesday night to assess the situation. Accompanied by the FCT Permanent Secretary, Dr. Babatope Ajakaiye, the minister, described the incident as unfortunate and directed the FCT Development Control to thoroughly investigate to ascertain what really went wrong that led to the death of the two men and report back immediately.
He said, “The FCT Administration is going to investigate thoroughly the unfortunate incident and ensure that this kind of ugly situation does not happen again in the FCT.”
The minister also directed the Executive Secretary of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Engr. Adamu Ismaila, to immediately move into the area to provide remedial action to protect the infrastructure there.
He said the FCTA had commenced remedial action at the site, adding that measures have already been taken to avoid a repeat of such ugly incident.
Part of the measures, he stated was for all contractors working at the site to temporarily stop work and provide retaining wall as a matter of urgency.
Other measures, the FCT Administration has put in place, include the engagement of a reputable construction firm (Habib Engineering Company Limited) to immediately take over the collapsed site (Plot 3333) and restore the embankment to prevent further erosion and possible collapse of the Mississippi Road.
Bello also directed all other developers working at the site to construct embankments for all the plots to prevent further collapse and for the staff of both departments of Development Control and Engineering Services to continuously inspect and monitor work in progress at the site.
He further instructed that adequate safety measures be put in place to protect the workers and that manual excavation must be stopped immediately on that site.
The site engineer was said to have been arrested by the police following the incident.
In another visit to the construction site, the Director General, FCT Emergency Management Agency, Alhaji Abbas Idriss, called on residents to place emphasis on safety issues, especially where it affected lives.
Abbas said he was shocked that people could be around where an excavator was working; saying the safest method to adopt would have been for the labourers to finish work on site before the excavator was moved in.
The Acting Controller, FCT Fire Service, Mr Julius Opetunsin, while speaking on the rescue operation, said he received a call from the Search and Rescue Unit informing him of a collapsed walkway.
Opetunsin gave his account of the incident thus: “Labourers were working on site while excavation was going on. The excavator apparently struck a central sewer pipe which got broken, the walkway caved in resulting in a landslide that covered three of the workers on site.’’
The acting controller said two seriously injured workers were rescued from the rubble and were receiving treatment at Abuja Clinic.
Investigations showed that the developer of the building has a building plan approval from the Development Control Department.
The approval was granted to Simag Construction Company for the site located on plot 3333, AO6 Maitama District.
It was learnt that the developer who had previously stopped working due to a ‘Stop Work’ notice served on them by the FCT Administration through the Development Control Department, mobilised to site to erect a retaining wall, probably to forestall what eventually happened.
A source told Daily Trust that the area where the mudslide occurred was waterlogged, and was supposed to be a green area.
The source added that apart from the area being waterlogged, the topography was below road level and was wrongly allocated by the past FCT Administration for residential purposes.
When Daily Trust contacted the FCT Development Control‘s Acting Director Hamza Tayub, he declined comment.
The scene of the mudslide incident at Mississippi Street, Maitama district of Abuja