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Dangers of indiscriminate Erection of Structures

By Nwaorgu Faustinus
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Accommodation, one of the basic needs of humanity occupies a central position in the existence of man. Man as a rational entity has over the years devised ways of protecting self from the environment, adverse weather conditions, attacks, intruders and the likes by the erection of buildings.

Therefore, the importance of building a house cannot be overemphasized given its pivotal role of sheltering man after a hard day's bustle and hustle of life.

In the urban areas, just as in the rural milieu, buildings are not only erected exceptionally for habitation but also for economic reasons. As a result of the ever increasing rural-urban drift with its attendance congestion; overpopulation and overcrowding of available and limited accommodation, there has also been increase in arbitrary location of buildings in places where they ought not to be.

The above situation accounts for the location of buildings by landlords, landladies etc for economic or habitation purposes on water channels, drainage systems or gutters, close to roads, under high and low tension cables, in and around old quarry sites known in local parlance as “borrow pits” without considering its negative impact on lives as well as the environment. those who carry such act are often times driven by the gains they can make from letting the shops, sheds, shanties, bungalows etc due to their high demands in the city.

Unfortunately, this trend has led to premature death of persons, a situation which is avoidable, as children are rendered orphans, spouses become either widows or widowers. A case in view is the electrocution of individuals who were carrying out their businesses under high tension wires this year at the Slaughter Market axis of Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State . The demise of these innocent citizens at the prime of their lives is not inevitable but avoidable, had adequate measures been put in place in advance before the deadly incident.

Recently, a husband lost his daughter and wife due to the collapse of a portion of an old excavation site against their house which was located very close to the left side of the pit. The said collapsed mine which struck the closest room to it was said to have been caused by a heavy inundation that weakened the wall of the pit. The incident which took place at Mango Estate, off Nwoji road, has in no mean measure left the bereaved husband and father heartbroken. Though some of the houses situated very close to and under the said pit have been marked as illegal structures by the appropriate authority, but it still baffles many about the nonchalant attitude exhibited by the tenants who see no danger in living there.

Investigations revealed that a similar incident occurred there last year, leaving two girls dead. It was also gathered confidentially by this writer that the landlord, Mr.Thompson Okoro have been advised by friends against building houses close to the side walls of the pit but he threw caution to the wind.

The above situation calls for urgent government intervention in order to avoid recurrence. This new development may not be unconnected with the recent demolition of illegal structures by the Governor Amaechi's led-administration. The state government should as a serious issue visits old and long forgotten quarry sites especially in the state capital to ascertain what kind of development going on there; legal or illegal, and take proper action so as to forestall future avoidable loss of innocent life.

Landlords, landladies etc should not only consider the legality of the site they want to erect structures, the monetary value the letting out of their apartments, sheds, shanties, huts, etc would fetch them but also the safety of would-be tenants. On the part of prospective tenants, do not consider that it is difficult to rent decent accommodation at the present time and opt to live in a place where you will endanger your safety and life. A word is a enough for the wise.

Nwaorgu Faustinus, Socio-political commentator writes from Igboteche, Rivers State

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