Six persons, including three children are feared dead in a building collapse in Bonny Street of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The victims are now receiving medical attention in a private hospital.
The building which collapsed weekend, is a one-storey building with timber decking and 12 cm concrete wall on it.
One of the victims who gave his name as Mr Kenneth Mbamaru, stated that, “ I was in the house with my daughter and brother when suddenly we saw things crashing down on us “, and claimed that he did not even know the building had timber decking.
On further investigation it was found that Timber decking was rotten and splintered in some places.
A niece of one of the owners of the buildingwho simply gave her name as Green, blamed the disaster on the heavy duty equipment used by the construction contractor working on the street road.
According to her, at the time of collapse, her aunt who is a co-owner of the building confronted the contractor and later went to the police station to report the matter.
Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Builders, Rivers State Chapter, Akinola Bammeke, noted that buildings in that area of the city were old, hence the need to have integrity test carried out on them.
According to him,” overtime, buildings age and we need to carry out integrity test to ascertain if they are fit for habitation so that people do not blame every breeze that blows for collapse of the building.
‘’ Buildings are supposed to withstand a certain degree of stress. If you say a collapse is as a result of road work, then the government needs to know the integrity of the building so as to inform the contractor handling the job the conseguences of his activities on neighbouring buildings.
He stressed that there was need for periodically carrying out integrity test on all buildings, “especially on buildings that we do not know the designer and the quality of material used,” adding that there are some buildings that should be pulled down for lack of what he called air pocket and set-back.
Bammeke also said that there was need for builders to carry out inspections on buildings and sign them out as fit for habitation.
He urged the government to act now and put machineries into motion to carry out integrity tests on buildings, saying, “we should not wait until there are fatalities before we act’’.
Attempts by our correspondents to reach the contractor, the police and the State Commissioner for Urban Development and Physical Planning and his Works counterpart to comment on the matter were not successful.
More Youths Engage In Artisanal Refining
As unemployment bites harder amidst rising cost of living, more youths in rural communities in Rivers State are now going into artisanal refining business to earn a living.
The Tide reliably gathered that some youths residing in Port Harcourt City were gradually moving to rural communities for bunkering business otherwise known as ‘kpo-fire’
Narrating his experience to The Tide, Mr Godwin Ibeneme who resides in Rumuekini in Akpor, said he was introduced into the kpor-fire business by his father.
Ibeneme, who hails from Ibaa/ Obelle area of Emohua Local Government Area, said his father compelled him to join other youths who were thriving in the business in the community.
“My father came to my house here in Rumuekini, and told me to come to the village, that other young men are making it through kpo-fire’ bunkering since I have lost my job.
“ I didn’t waste time to give it a trial, because I had really looked for what to do, since I lost my job at a fast-food company. Since then, I can tell you that I have been taking care of myself, unlike before when everything looked hopeless”, he explained.
The Tide also learnt that the kpo-fire’ business was currently thriving in Isiokpo axis of Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
A resident of the community who pleaded anonymity, told The Tide that there was a high level of discrimination in the business.
According to him, he decided to engage himself at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, to hustle for his daily bread, instead of staying idle.
The Tide recalls that the Federal Government had promised to build modular refineries in the Niger Delta region since 2019 as an alternative to illegal oil bunkering in the region as well as to create employment for the youth.
The Tide also reports that three years after the promise was made, nothing has been done in that regard.
Oyigbo Cassava Plant, Legacy Project -Akawor
The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Amb. Desmond Akawor, says the cassava plant project, being executed by the Rivers State Government in Oyigbo is a legacy project that will generate huge employment for Rivers people.
He said the project was well thought out and would stand the test of time to tackle unemployment as well as ensure food availability in the state.
Akawor made the remarks during an interaction with journalists at the weekend in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the cassava plant which was supposed to be executed by the previous administrations, was initially planned to be a joint venture between the state government and some organisations, but that the other partners did not pay their counterpart funding.
“The steps taken by the Wike-led administration to bring this project to life without the counterpart funding is commendable, because of the huge economic benefits it will give to the state.
“Many people have also been employed at the construction sites of flyovers being executed by Julius Berger. Eighty percent of those working there are indigenes, while the company provides the expatriates”, he said.
The PDP chairman also hinted on the plans of the state government to privatise the Buguma fish farm and banana farm, among others, so as to make them more viable.
He said that the state government had not abandoned the projects initiated by the previous administration, but was thinking on what to do with them.
Akawor maintained that the employment of 5,000 persons into the civil service was still ongoing, saying the government is only taking time to ensure that indigenes of the state are employed.
PH Airport Resumes Skeletal International Flight Operations
Skeletal flight operations have resumed at the international wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
This follows the lifting of the curfew that was imposed in the state by the Rivers State Government to check cases of insecurity in the state.
The Tide’s checks show that many of the airlines that operate international flights are yet to resume flight operations, even though the coast is clear for them to resume operations.
The Cronaux Airline, it was gathered, is the only airline at the moment that has fully resumed international flight.
Other airlines that operate at the international wing, like the Lufthansa Airline, Turkish Airline, and Ethiopian Airline are yet to resume operations.
The Acting Head of Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Kunle Akinbode, confirmed the resumption of international flight operations at the airport, last Friday, saying the international wing is now open for international airlines to operate.
He explained that the curfew that was imposed in the state delayed the resumption of international flights operations, even when issues of Covid-19 standard protocols had been addressed.
“Now that the curfew is over and the international wing is open for flight operations, it is left for each of the airlines to work out its own schedule for operations.
“It will not be the duty of the airport management to sort things out for them and know when to resume. I know that some have started. Lufthansa has said they will resume next month, August”, Akinbode said.
The Tide reports that the international wing of the Port Harcourt Airport had been shut since the Covid-19 lockdown, and did not reopen when other international airports in Lagos, Abuja and Kano among others reopened for international operations.
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