Category Archives: Groudwater withdrawal impacts

Governments’ water supply policy should be geared to correcting their bad deeds instead of criminalizing citizens efforts towards improving access.

The Minister also wondered aloud whether there would be groundwater left for future generations considering the present rate of groundwater abstraction! This is a troubling statement coming from a country’s Minister of Water Resources because groundwater development at the current rate cannot completely empty the aquifers in Nigeria as the country is not in a climatic zone (arid) where there will always be recharge to the aquifers either in the Sahel or the humid regions of Nigeria. 

At the just concluded 53rd Annual International Conference and Exhibition of the Nigerian Society for Mining and Geosciences at Abuja, the Minister of Water Resources bemoans the ubiquitous drilling of boreholes by individuals in Nigeria even within the distance of a few meters as small three meters. This kind of observation is common among government officials, both permanent and transient who are always ready to focus on the symptoms of a phenomenon rather than the cause, and are usually ready to pass the buck to the average Nigerian.

Individuals do not need to engage in drilling boreholes except in isolated and rural areas in countries where governments and/or corporations accredited for water provision meet their service-to-the-people responsibilities. Drilling within short distances of each other, therefore, would never arise if the government does its part concerning provision of potable water for its citizens?

It is common knowledge that each family in Nigeria is a ‘micro government’ because it has to generate its own energy, provide its own water as well as organize its own garbage disposal and its own security (neighborhood vigilante), etc.

Government and its officials should stop finger-pointing at what it considers an over-reach by its citizens who are merely doing all they can for survival in the face of failure of government to provide good governance – a major part of it is service to the people – at every level.

Nigerians are all witnesses to the situation at Abuja, Lagos and other big urban centers where every flat in multi-storey buildings has its own electric generator resulting in a cacophony of noise pollution which any visitor from another country cannot miss, and the air pollution is immense.

Should the government crack down on these unintended polluters as is the case in some urban centers go unchallenged? In the same vein, the Minister of Water Resources should not attempt to blame and criminalize the attempts of families that are just trying to provide water for everyday use by drilling domestic water supply boreholes.

This blog has cried out about the adverse impact of corruption on the provision of potable water supply in Nigeria.

There have been reported cases of advance procurement for several years of some water treatment chemicals by politically-appointed Water Board members. Transparency International reported that billions of Naira tha would have been used to improve access to potable water have been corruptly embezzled since independence.

Here is a quotation from this blog: (https://weircentreforafrica.com/2011/08/31/corruption-in-the-water-sector-makes-access-to-potable-water-and-sanitation-a-moving-target-in-nigeria-2/ ):

Luke Onyekakeyah’s article on  Corruption in the water sector some years ago noted  that “conservatively not less than $1 trillion dollars have been pumped into the public water sector since the past 46 years of independence. This figure excludes private expenditures in the water sector. Nigeria being a corruption-ridden nation, over 60 per cent of this amount was corruptly embezzled.”

While the source of Onyekakeyah’s data for this article published in The Guardian [a Nigerian newspaper], a couple of years ago is unknown and while the figure may seem outrageous, goings-on in the water and sanitation sector in the country would tend to buttress the claim about the adverse impact of corruption on low figure on access to potable water.  Sixty percent of a trillion dollars of those years should be adequate – then and now – to significantly change the current statistics on access to potable water and good sanitation in Nigeria”.

It is common knowledge that most water corporations in the country only supply water to Government Housing Estates or GRAs and that less than 10 percent of the population of any urban area gets its water from water corporations. I have noticed while staying at a hotel in a high-income area of Abuja, the country’s capital that the ‘mairuwa’(cart-puller water vendors) sell water in jerrycans to households. If this could happen in that kind of area in the country’s capita, it is easy to imagine what people in less-privileged areas of the country.

The Minister also wondered aloud whether there would be groundwater left for future generations considering the present rate of groundwater abstraction! This is a troubling statement coming from a country’s Minister of Water Resources because groundwater development at the current rate cannot completely empty the aquifers in Nigeria as the country is not in a climatic zone (arid) where there will always be recharge to the aquifers either in the Sahel or the humid regions of Nigeria. 

Even in the Sahel part of the country, there is appreciable rainfall during the wet seasons although in the Sahel, there is the need to manage groundwater abstraction so that future cost of abstraction will not be prohibitively high.

The Minister’s point on the need to carry out modeling of our ground water is in the right direction. There is a need to model the country’s surface water resources which is impossible to achieve without having good long-term data. The Government needs to invest in collection of good quality data in the management of its surface and groundwater resources. It is important to know how much government devotes to this important area of water resources management.

Government at state and local government levels should invest more in the provision of potable water instead of seeking to tax or criminalize the efforts of citizens who are actually assisting governments in what is an essential part of their functions of service to the people.

Finally, to avoid the kind of embarrassing technical mistake by the minister, it would be necessary for government officials to be properly briefed whenever they need to make public pronouncements at professional or technical gatherings.

DEPO ADENLE

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The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, on Wednesday (March 29, 2017) expressed worry over the increasing rate of indiscriminate drilling of boreholes by quacks in the country.

Borehole 2017

Mr. Adamu said this at the 53rd Annual International Conference and Exhibition of the Nigerian Society for Mining and Geosciences in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the conference is entitled: “The Extractive Industry: imperatives for Wealth Creation and Employment Generation”.

He called on the members to show enough concern, just as he said the society had a lot to do in the water resources sector.

Mr. Adamu said it was time Nigeria sought ways to protect its surface and underground water resources effectively.

“It is getting out of hand. You find a situation whereby within three meters, households are drilling boreholes; people are not mindful of the interference.

“We are spending too much money, whereas, we can have maybe a single unit to serve people. I think it’s time we look at these issues.

“I think it is very important we do not exploit our ground water resources to a point where there will be nothing left for the future generation of this country,” he said.

The minister said the National Water Resources bill, approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), would soon be forwarded to the National Assembly.

According to him, the bill consists of a modelling regulation to monitor exploitation of ground water resources.

He said that the bill when passed, would ensure the setting up of a hydro-drilling industry in the country.

He said the lack of proper regulation in drilling activities had made it an all comers industry, thereby undermining activities of members of the society.

However, Olugbenga Okunlola, President, Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society, sought for a collective integration and corporation among governments, industry, academia and technical partners to support geosciences data collection.

This, Mr. Okunlola said, would help in the provision of pre-completion geosciences information to mining companies to support economically viable extraction processes.

He commended the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari on his emphasis on economic recovery and diversification in the solid mineral sector.

“This has been practically translated into viable increased funding for the major government institutions,” he said.

Premium Times, (NAN), March 29, 2017.

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Land subsidence causing San Francisco Tower’s Sinking Seen From Space?

This report by Associated Press summarizes how many factors can come into play when an engineering structure is failing or is responding to forces unleashed  on it after it has been completed. The forces could be man-made such as ground water abstraction or withdrawal or it could be due to structural geologic features that were overlooked or underestimated during the planning stages. The problem of the San Francisco tower should be a good interdisciplinary case study for students of building technology, geosciences and other related fields.

This blogger has discussed the recurring problem of collapsed  buildings in Lagos, Nigeria which could be due to uncontrolled withdrawal of ground water, poor geotechnical investigation before construction, poor building material and poor supervision by site engineers (https://weircentreforafrica.com/2012/11/24/collapsed-buildings-in-nigeria-thoughts-on-the-probable-causes/)

DEPO ADENLE, November 2016

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By JOCELYN GECKER, Associated November 29, 2016

leaningfriscotower

© The Associated Press The image provided by the European Space Agency ESA on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016, shows the Millennium Tower in San Francisco on the base of modified Copernicus Sentinel satellite data. The European Space Agency has released satellite…

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leaning2

SAN FRANCISCO — Engineers in San Francisco have tunneled underground to try and understand the sinking of the 58-story Millennium Tower. Now comes an analysis from space.

The European Space Agency has released detailed data from satellite imagery that shows the skyscraper in San Francisco’s financial district is continuing to sink at a steady rate — and perhaps faster than previously known.

The luxury high-rise that opened its doors in 2009 has been dubbed the Leaning Tower of San Francisco. It has sunk about 16 inches into landfill and is tilting several inches to the northwest.

A dispute over the building’s construction in the seismically active city has spurred numerous lawsuits involving the developer, the city and owners of its multimillion dollar apartments.

Engineers have estimated the building is sinking at a rate of about 1-inch per year. The Sentinel-1 twin satellites show almost double that rate based on data collected from April 2015 to September 2016.

The satellite data shows the Millennium Tower sunk 40 to 45 millimeters — or 1.6 to 1.8 inches — over a recent one-year period and almost double that amount — 70 to 75 mm (2.6 to 2.9 inches) — over its 17-month observation period, said Petar Marinkovic, founder and chief scientist of PPO Labs which analyzed the satellite’s radar imagery for the ESA along with Norway-based research institute Norut.

“What can be concluded from our data, is that the Millennium Tower is sinking at a steady rate,” Marinkovic said in a telephone interview Monday from The Hague, Netherlands.

The data detected a small slowdown this summer but one that needs further analysis, he said, and does not change the overall data. “There is quite a steady subsidence.”

The Sentinel-1 study is not focused on the Millennium Tower but is part of a larger mission by the European Space Agency tracking urban ground movement around the world, and particularly subsidence “hotspots” in Europe, said Pierre Potin, Sentinel-1 mission manager for the ESA.

The ESA decided to conduct regular observations of the San Francisco Bay Area, including the Hayward Fault, since it is prone to tectonic movement and earthquakes, said Potin, who is based in Italy.

Data from the satellite, which is orbiting about 400 miles (700 kilometers) from the earth’s surface, was recorded every 24 days.

The building’s developer, Millennium Partners, insists the building is safe for occupancy and could withstand an earthquake.

The developer’s spokesman PJ Johnston said he had no direct comment on the satellite data but issued a statement saying that the Millennium Tower is a state-of-the-art building that was “designed and constructed to the extraordinarily high standards” mandated by San Francisco.

He reiterated the developers’ blame for the tower’s problems on the city’s construction of an adjacent railway station, which they say removed ground water from beneath the Millennium Tower that caused it to sink and tilt.

The city agency, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, blames the building’s “inadequate foundation” which is not anchored to bedrock. The tower is supported by piles driven 60 to 90 feet into landfill.

Engineers hired by the building and its developers have drilled deep holes around the building to test soil samples to determine if the building has stopped sinking, and if there’s a way to fix it.

One of the building’s tenants, Jerry Dodson, says that developers have given tenants the impression that the sinking was slowing and stopping.

“To have the space agency looking at it debunks what (developers) have put out there. Now we know it’s continuing to sink at an accelerated rate,” said Dodson, an attorney who has helped organize homeowners lawsuits. “I can tell you that satellite data is way more accurate that digging in the dirt.”

 

 

Threats of underground water pollution imminent in Nigeria?

The title of the article below which was published in the Daily Trust of August 26, 2015 and written by Alex Abutu based on what Mr. Michael Ale, AWDROP National President told Daily Trust, sounds alarmist as its scope is very limited compared to its content.
Groundwater pollution in Nigeria cannot and should not be mainly ascribed to the activities of foreign borehole drilling companies. It is due to a number of causes – poor borehole design by incompetent drilling companies, point-source and non-point-source pollution, unregulated waste disposal practices, unscientific design and siting of sanitary landfills, improper decommissioning of non-productive or failed boreholes, unsupervised drilling activities of oil prospecting companies, etc. to mention A few. fairly detailed summary is contained in the table provided by Canter(1981) which lists 3 major sources of groundwater pollution – Waste disposal sources, Nondisposal sources and Depletion. Please click below for the  table on major sources of Groundwater Pollution.

Major Sources of Groundwater Pollution
Major Sources of Groundwater Pollution
The article focuses on the following:
• “large format equipment which is inimical to our environment”;
• Drilling of large number of boreholes;
• Poor design of boreholes that allow infiltration of overburden water into the aquifer through the screening of the overburden casing without appropriate grouting;
• Foreign drillers operating without license;
• Too many boreholes and well interference.
These are sweeping statements which are difficult to substantiate, for example, that using large equipment is unfavorable, detrimental or adverse to our environment in Nigeria. Furthermore, drilling many boreholes per day, if scientifically located and properly designed and supervised should not cause any problem with respect to well interference or pollution.
Currently, the National Water Law has not been enacted. However, in Part X of the draft National Water Resources Act of 2011, reference is made to the Code of the Regulation of Domestic Boreholes which was developed by the National Water Resources Institute (NWRI) and the Ministry. This Code’s section 4 is on Legal Consideration.
Section 4.1 is on Drilling Permit which states “No well shall be constructed unless the owner is in possession of a valid permit to do so … Permit shall be given by relevant Agencies designated by the Minister of Water Resources.” This is fine but has no legal backing until the Water Resources Act is enacted.
Section 4.2 of the Code is on Water Well Driller’s License: Section 4.2a states “A water well driller’s license shall be obtained from NWRI on application. Section 4.2b states “No person shall construct a well for the abstraction or monitoring of groundwater or for research if the person does not have a driller’s license granted in accordance with the provisions of this code. The requirements of the driller’s license shall be applicable to any person, company, corporation, or other entity engaged in the business or occupation that involves construction of water wells that may penetrate water-bearing strata (including constructing water wells, geothermal systems and environmental monitoring wells.”
Section 4.2.1.1.1 gives an exemption to the stipulation of the Code as stated above. As mentioned earlier, the National Water Resources Act is yet to be enacted, the Code is part of the Act, consequently the alarm raised by the article concerning foreign companies using unlicensed drillers cannot be resolved at this point in time.
Comments by DEPO ADENLE.
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Threats of underground water pollution imminent
By Alex Abutu , Daily Trust, Aug 26 2015

FemaleDriller
A lady driller supervising a borehole drilling recently.
Nigeria is facing an imminent danger of underground water pollution if the activities of foreigners drilling companies are left unchecked, the Association of Water Well Drilling Rig Owners and Practitioners has alerted.
The association said at the rate the foreign companies, mostly from Asia, are operating, the nation may run out of clean drinking water in the nearest future. “Asians have infiltrated our environment with large format equipment which is inimical to our environment.”
Mr. Michael Ale, AWDROP National President, told Daily Trust that: “An average Asian drilling company operating in the country drills close to three boreholes in a day and we have about 50 of such drilling companies scattered around Nigeria with each having at least four rigs. With this calculation, an average of 400 boreholes are drilled daily and this is enormous.”
“Another major issue is the fact that the underground water is gradually being polluted by the design of drilling embarked by the Asians as most of their designs allow infiltration of overburden water into the underground aquifer through the screening of the overburden casing without appropriate grouting. We are not talking of the cheap materials used during their installation. This is sad,” Ale added.
Investigation by Daily Trust in Abuja and environs showed that there is an upsurge in the number of foreigners in the borehole drilling business.
In Masaka, a suburb near Abuja, numerous signposts advertising the foreign drilling companies abound with some engaging in promos to woo customers.
Ale noted that most of the foreign drillers are not licensed to drill, wondering who allowed them to operate in Nigeria. “Our trained drillers and experts are jobless. So the environmental, social and economic importance is being maligned by these foreigners.”
According to him, many Nigerians who drill boreholes have adequate knowledge of the terrain but the foreigners do not. “Borehole needs to last for a lifetime but conduct a search on many boreholes drilled now, it is glaring that they are affecting one another because of the approach of the drillers, many of whom are quacks that have infiltrated the industry.”
“Some people have argued that the Asians made borehole affordable to most Nigerians but is it affordability or sustainability that we should be talking about? Yes their borehole can be affordable for 2-3 years but will pack up with time. It may be affordable but the client gets contaminated water because of the drill design,” he added.
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Threats of underground water pollution imminent
By Alex Abutu , Daily Trust, Aug 26 2015
A lady driller supervising a borehole drilling recently.
Nigeria is facing an imminent danger of underground water pollution if the activities of foreigners drilling companies are left unchecked, the Association of Water Well Drilling Rig Owners and Practitioners has alerted.
The association said at the rate the foreign companies, mostly from Asia, are operating, the nation may run out of clean drinking water in the nearest future. “Asians have infiltrated our environment with large format equipment which is inimical to our environment.”
Mr. Michael Ale, AWDROP National President, told Daily Trust that: “An average Asian drilling company operating in the country drills close to three boreholes in a day and we have about 50 of such drilling companies scattered around Nigeria with each having at least four rigs. With this calculation, an average of 400 boreholes are drilled daily and this is enormous.”
“Another major issue is the fact that the underground water is gradually being polluted by the design of drilling embarked by the Asians as most of their designs allow infiltration of overburden water into the underground aquifer through the screening of the overburden casing without appropriate grouting. We are not talking of the cheap materials used during their installation. This is sad,” Ale added.
Investigation by Daily Trust in Abuja and environs showed that there is an upsurge in the number of foreigners in the borehole drilling business.
In Masaka, a suburb near Abuja, numerous signposts advertising the foreign drilling companies abound with some engaging in promos to woo customers.
Ale noted that most of the foreign drillers are not licensed to drill, wondering who allowed them to operate in Nigeria. “Our trained drillers and experts are jobless. So the environmental, social and economic importance is being maligned by these foreigners.”
According to him, many Nigerians who drill boreholes have adequate knowledge of the terrain but the foreigners do not. “Borehole needs to last for a lifetime but conduct a search on many boreholes drilled now, it is glaring that they are affecting one another because of the approach of the drillers, many of whom are quacks that have infiltrated the industry.”
“Some people have argued that the Asians made borehole affordable to most Nigerians but is it affordability or sustainability that we should be talking about? Yes their borehole can be affordable for 2-3 years but will pack up with time. It may be affordable but the client gets contaminated water because of the drill design,” he added.

Water shortage and water wars in SW USA: Lessons for Komadugu-Yobe Basin

Reading the story in the article below of the imminent Austin, Texas water war one could make a projection of similar development in the Komadugu-Yobe Drainage Basin in Northeast Nigeria. This article gives an insight into the kind of conflict that develops when any part of the globe suddenly discovers that it has become a water stressed or deficient area as a result of cyclic drought or climate change.

The drought in the Southwest USA has resulted in, for example, water conflicts in California and Texas. In California, the State has put together some water conservation regulations and there have even been reported cases of water theft. It has also led to a situation in Austin, Texas where urban communities and developers have become somehow creative in the interpretation of existing water laws. What has led to this creativity is the large scale decrease in available surface water which means not enough to pump for use in the cities. The developers and the cities discovered a gap in the Water Law which gives them a chance to go after groundwater. They thus enlisted the services of a drilling company to drain part of the water of the Trinity Aquifer.

What lessons can Nigeria’s NE (Hadejia-Komadugu-Yobe Basin) (HKYB) learn from this?

At the HKYB annual floods have for many years in the past supported the diverse socio-economic activities of the area. “To millions of West Africans the river brings comfort when flowing in abundance, misery in times of drought” (Gerster, G. (1975). This applies to HKYB also. This Basin has experienced droughts – since the first sharp phase in the years 1972-73, there have been consistent shortages of rainfall in the dry areas of tropical Africa, including HKYB. A notable worsening in the drought occurred in 1983-84, and shortages have remained the general rule up to at least the recent past. These have greatly affected the major rivers. Furthermore, with the development and construction of the Tiga and Challawa Gorge Dams in Kano State, an upstream state, flow has also been reduced and occurrence of floods and groundwater recharge of the wetlands has been considerably reduced.

The construction of these dams was undertaken because of the need to meet the increasing water demand resulting from rapid urbanization and high population growth rate. However, it is believed that what accounts for the reduced river flow is not only due to the increased diversion from these dams but also poor dam operation procedures.

The Komadugu-Yobe-Basin (KYB) Trust Fund was established as a partnership between the riparian states and the Federal Government to ensure that flows can reach the downstream users and that the aquifers in the downstream areas are recharged. Some of the steps the Trust Fund plans to take include developing dam operations procedures for the Tiga and Challawa Gorge Dams. This is aimed at maximizing the benefits of the river system for both human and nature, by controlling the unwanted dry season floods.

Finally, the National Water Law is yet to be enacted and whatever loopholes it contains, concerning the management of the waters of the KYB in an integrated manner, need to be investigated and addressed. Furthermore, there seems to be little or no attention paid to the management of groundwater, not the near surface aquifer, in the agreements reached in the Basin. The question that needs to be asked is how much impacts are the FADAMA tube wells, used for irrigation, having on the downstream flow of the river system?

Though the northeast Nigeria water situation has not reached the level of that in the southwest USA, it is necessary to borrow a leaf from what is happening there.

by DEPO ADENLE

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The Southwestern Water Wars
How Drought Is Producing Tensions in Texas
By RICHARD PARKERMARCH 13, 2015
WIMBERLEY, Tex. — “WE don’t want you here,” warned the county commissioner, pointing an accusatory finger at the drilling company executives as 600 local residents rose to their feet. “We want you to leave Hays County.”
Normally, my small town is a placid place nestled in the Texas Hill Country, far from controversy, a peaceful hour’s drive west of Austin. Pop. 2,582, Wimberley was founded as a mill town on a creek. Today it’s part artist colony, part cowboy town known for its natural beauty and its cool, clear springs and rivers that wind through soaring cypress trees.
But these are not normal times. The suburbs of Austin close in every year. Recently, the suburb of Buda and developers enlisted a company from faraway Houston to drain part of the Trinity Aquifer, the source of the Hill Country’s water. An old-fashioned, Western-style water war has erupted.
Across Texas and the Southwest, the scene is repeated in the face of a triple threat: booming population, looming drought and the worsening effects of climate change.
And it is a story that has played out before. It was in the Southwest that complex human cultures in the United States first arose. Around A.D. 800, the people called the “Ancient Ones” — the Mimbres, Mogollon, Chaco and other Native American cultures — flourished in what was then a green, if not lush, region. They channeled water into fields and built cities on the mesas and into the cliffs, fashioning societies, rituals and art.
Then around 1200 they all disappeared. Or so the legend goes. In reality, these cultures were slowly and painfully extinguished. The rivers dried. The fields died. The cities were unsustainable as drought stretched from years to decades, becoming what scientists today call a megadrought. Parts of these cultures were absorbed by the Pueblo and Navajo people; parts were simply stamped out.
By the time the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, so had, finally, the rain. The American, German and Polish settlers who came to Texas in the 19th century found a rich landscape, flush with water. “I must say as to what I have seen of Texas,” wrote Davy Crockett, “it is the garden spot of the world.” And so it remained, punctuated by only two long droughts.
One, at the dawn of the 20th century, wreaked ecological havoc on the overgrazed Hill Country. The second stretched from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and is still known as the drought of record. When it released its grip, a new era of feverish dam and canal building ensued in Texas, just as it already had in much of the Southwest. A dearth of rainfall, after all, is a fact in the cycle of life here. Rains come when the equatorial current of El Niño appears, and they stay stubbornly away when its twin, La Niña, reverses the course. Those grand dams and canals seemed likely to suffice.
But again, these are not normal times. Arizonans are in their 10th year of drought, despite an uptick in rainfall during last year’s monsoon season because of a single storm on a single day. And while it has been a cool, damp winter here, the clear waters of the Blanco River still look low. Officially, more than half of Texas’ 269,000 square miles are plagued by drought. Conservatively, this would make for the fifth consecutive year of drought in Texas. Meanwhile, today, the average American uses 100 gallons of water a day.
So the race to engineer a new solution is underway, and Wimberley finds itself squarely in the path. The drilling here would rely on a few landowners, whose land is beyond any water conservation district. Exploiting this gap in the patchwork of Texas water laws, the Houston company would pump five million gallons a day out of the Trinity Aquifer to the Austin suburbs of Buda and Kyle.

Collapsed Buildings in Nigeria: Thoughts on the probable causes.

Thoughts on the probable causes of building collapse in Nigeria.

By Depo Adenle

There seems to be an increase in building collapse in Nigeria especially in Lagos State. The following thoughts come to mind whenever a building collapses on estates built along Nigeria’s coastline. The recent occurrence at Jakande Estate in Isolo as reported below by Sahara Reporters and The Punch calls for concern.

These thoughts can be divided into two major groups – construction and handing over stage, and post-construction development stage.

Construction and Handing Over Stage:

Was the estate built on reclaimed land from old landfills? – Isolo houses about three and half decades old Oke-Afa dump site, which was recently
closed down for commercial dumping due to expiration of
age (30 years). What kind of material sits on top of the recent sediments that lies under the landfill materials when this area was reclaimed – is it highly compressible ? What type of foundation was used and how suitable is this foundation for the kind of engineering soils at the site? What type of loading was envisaged and what was the loading like before collapse? What is the quality of building material used as compared to engineering specification? Who signed off on the structural soundness of the buildings before residents moved in?

Post Construction Development Stage:

What kind of loading existed just before the collapse of the buildings? What was the magnitude of groundwater withdrawal within the estate and in areas that adjoin the estate?

The latter is important because groundwater abstraction is not yet regulated in the country. Industries pump as much as they need without any concern for the impacts these withdrawals have on other users because there is no regulation guiding groundwater abstraction.

It has been reported that the water demand is very high in Lagos Metropolis and this has led to groundwater over-use and land subsidence which has a strong effect on houses and other infrastructures.

Land subsidence is not limited to Lagos as it has been reported that it occur s particularly in the coastal areas of Nigeria (Environmental statistics: Situation in Federal Republic of Nigeria; Being Country Report Presented at the Workshop on Environment Statistics Held in Dakar, Senegal 28th February – 4th March 2005).

Meanwhile, there is a ‘Nigerian Water Law’ which  is yet to be enacted.

As the Punch report has revealed, Nigeria’s emergency agencies are usually not up to the task when disasters strike, and with repeated collapse of structure, this needs to be urgently addressed.

And since the Lagos State coastal area is the place constantly in the news for these calamities, the authorities in the State need to respond to the issues raised above as well as monitor the magnitude and distribution of groundwater abstraction.  In addition, strict adherence to engineering designs must be enforced so that building contractors do not cut corners in use of materials or refuse to keep to specifications.

One hopes that the many lives being lost over and over again should ginger the Lagos State government to act because they are needless loss of lives.

Lagos Building Collapse Update: Occupants of All Neighboring Buildings Ordered to Vacate their Premises within 48 Hours

Sahara Reporters, New York

November 21, 2012

The Lagos State Building Control Agency [LASBCA] has ordered all occupants of structures near the collapsed building at the Jakande Estate, Isolo in Lagos State to vacate their premises in 48 hours.

Most buildings within the vicinity have structural weaknesses and signs of imminent collapse.

Police officers who visited the site promised the residents that they would be temporarily rehabilitated, but where they are to be relocated had not been announced as of the time of filing this report.

kids died in the collapse and their mother was also seriously injured.  She is receiving treatment in a hospital.

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Lagos building collapse kills two sisters, injures mother

Kunle Falayi and Temitayo Famutimi

The Punch, November 22, 2012 by

Two sisters killed in Lagos building collapse –Pages 4&5
| credits: File copy

Two sisters – Toyin and Bukky Coker – were killed on Wednesday when a part of the two-storey building they lived in at M20, Jakande Low Cost Housing Estate, Isolo, Lagos, collapsed.

Their mother identified simply as Iya Coker was injured.

Three out of the six flats on one of the two wings of the building completely collapsed at about 12:05am.

It was learnt  that the deceased and their mother lived on the first floor.

PUNCH Metro learnt that Toyin, was a 30-year-old medical doctor, while Bukky recently finished her national youth service. Both sisters were graduates of the University of Lagos.

One of the survivors, Ahmadu Omoniyi, who lived on the ground floor of the building said he informed Mrs. Coker of the impending danger at about 11.40pm  on Tuesday night when he heard the building cracking.

He said, “When I got home on Tuesday evening, I observed that sand and stone were falling off from the walls and the decking. I informed the caretaker immediately. I moved into the apartment in September.

“Around 11pm, I suddenly woke up feeling uneasy.  I roused the other two people staying with me and asked them to start packing vital things while I went to Mrs. Coker’s place to draw her attention to the situation.

“When I got to her floor, she answered me from inside saying, ‘God will see us through till tomorrow’. Nobody stayed on the second floor, so, I joined my other flat mates downstairs.

“To my utmost surprise as soon as we removed our vitals documents from our apartment and moved like three steps away, the building collapsed. It was God that saved us because the whole place went down.”

How woman, corpses were found –Neighbour

A resident of the area, Opeyemi Fagun, said the sound of the collapsed building drew neighbours’ attention to the scene.

He said despite starting the emergency operation started the incident happened, Coker could not be rescued until after about four hours.

He said, “We heard the woman saying, ‘please help, please help’ but we couldn’t locate her on time because of the amount of debris that had fallen all over the place.

“We finally located her at about 4am where a wooden cupboard had fallen over the lower part of her body on the bed she slept. Meanwhile, the cupboard prevented the hard core debris from falling on her.”

It was learnt that calls placed by residents to the number of her two daughters after their mother had been rescued rang out.

Fagun explained that Coker could not also give a comprehensive account of the number of people in her apartment as she seemed to be in shock at the time she was being taken to hospital.

Fagun said, “We kept on searching the debris. We later sighted a leg, which turned out to be that of Bukky under the debris. Toyin’s corpse, which was also buried under the debris was also sighted.

“Both of them were found dead under the debris. We concluded the search and rescue at about 5am after Toyin’s body was recovered. Government emergency officials later started coming around some minutes to six blaring sirens all over the place.”

General Manager of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, said the bodies of the sisters had been taken to the morgue.

When one of our correspondents visited the scene, oficials of the Lagos State Building Control Agency were seen marking the buildings on the M Zone of the estate for demolition.

‘Govt officials ignored our calls’

Survivors of the incident told one of our correspondents that emergency officials, who were alerted to the impending disaster did not come.

A resident, Daramola Victor, told one of our correspondents that about 11.40pm, it was noticed that the walls were about to give way.

He said, “I live in the second wing. But we noticed that the other wing was cracking and we called the National Emergency Management Agency, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency and fire service on the phone. Only the Red Cross came later after the collapse.

“All these agencies are here now acting as if they are doing something useful. They could have saved lives if they came when we called on them.”

He said when he noticed that one of the wings of the building had collapsed, he rushed back into his apartment and evacuated his family.

“I really don’t know where to go now. All our properties are outside. Neither LASEMA nor NEMA is giving us any assistance in this direction,” he said.

State officials lied –Residents

Residents of the buildings at the site that have now been tagged “distressed” and sealed by the  Lagos State Building Control Agency, said no effort was made in the past by government officials to test the state of the buildings in the estate.

Earlier, the Commissioner for Housing, Mr. Bosun Jeje, who was at the site briefly, had said the buildings were “inspected frequently by our engineers.”

He said, “This is a responsible government, whenever anything like this happens government always ensures that those who are affected are taken care of.

“Government will offset the medical bills of victims who are receiving treatment in the hospital. As you can see, the buildings have been marked for demolition because they are weak.”

Managing Director, Lagos State Property Development Corporation, Biodun Oki, also said the residents had been given notice to quit the buildings prior to the collapse.

“The markings of the distressed buildings had been before now and even some of them moved out before now,” Oki said.

But residents said the buildings were marked for demolition immediately after  Wednesday’s incident. They claimed there was no prior warning from government agencies.

One of our correspondents noticed officials of the LASBCA marking the buildings on the M Zone of the estate at about 9am on Wednesday.

An angry resident, who pleaded anonymity said, “If anybody tells you that they had inspected these buildings before, they are only lying. We had called on the government at different times to compel the owners of the buildings to renovate them but they did not take any step.

“I did the renovation of my own apartment when I moved in. I would have packed out of the apartment if not because I am financially handicapped.

“If government had inspected the houses and said they were “distressed” we would have packed out without complaint. They don’t care about us.”

Another resident, Ibrahim Ade, who corroborated this, said he was angry when he saw government officials sealing other buildings on Wednesday.

He said the inefficiency of government cost the two sisters their lives.

“Go to all the buildings, you will see that they are not in good condition, but government refused to do what was necessary until people died,” he said.

President of the residents’ association, Abiodun Taiwo, also berated the officials for their insensitive attitude to the state of the buildings in the estate.