By Oginyi Nkechinyere
An unfortunate incident happened in the late hours of Wednesday as a popular hotel in Abakaliki Ebonyi State, Metro View Hotels located adjacent the College of Health Sciences (CHS) of Ebonyi state University (EBSU), Presco Campus collapsed with over 70 persons escaping the collapse
Among the 70 persons were students who went for group reading that escaped from the hotel.
Correspondent reports that the hotel building plan was approved on 11th February, 2001 while it was built and commissioned by a former Minister of Culture and Tourism and an indigene of the state, Amb Frank Nchita Ogbuewu on 28th May, 2005.
Consequently, the state government has sealed the hotel while investigation is ongoing.
Report has it that a Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) committee identified as Prevention, Investigation, Failure and Analysis yesterday visited the collapsed building for investigation.
The newly appointed Special Assistant to Governor David Umahi on Capital Territory Development, Chief Ejem Okoro announced the government action and said over 60 persons escaped death following the sudden collapse of a part of the popular hotel.
He said, “We got a shocking news in the night that a wing of Metro View hotel has collapsed and we immediately dispatched our men to go and get underground view of the news.
“They saw that the building has collapsed and took photographs of it. We discovered that a wing of the hotel which looks like an attachment to the main building has pulled from the main building and the entire place collapsed.
“The fortunate thing that happened is that so many people lodged there, nobody was injured and they came out successfully and have been re-located to another hotel.
“Up to 60 people lodged here and they were safely moved out from this place, glory be to God. We are advising people to get approval from the government when they want to build and as you are building, you take order.”
“We have step by step on how to build and supervise building. So, if we don’t supervise your building, you are building on your own and if anything happens to the building, we will hold you responsible. We have to seal the entire building till further notice because we don’t want to lose any life”, he said.
The Director of the hotel, Chief Autsine Orji said they had noticed a crack on some of the pillars holding the building and they immediately cordoned off the side of building and started renovations, adding that it was on the process of the renovation that the building collapsed.
Orji said those who lodged in the hotel were outside the building for a seminar when the incident happened, stressing that no life was lost.
Chief Orji said, “The manager of this hotel showed me the pillar that was cracking and we immediately cordoned-off the place, this was on Tuesday this week. We immediately evacuated all our guests in the hotel on that Tuesday to see if we can salvage the building and started work on the building on Wednesday. During the work, we discovered that it was coming down the more. We then left the job. Then at about 7pm on Wednesday, that side of the building collapsed and it came down.”
“There is no truth in the insinuation that about 60 people were inside the hotel and they escaped death when it collapsed. No guest was in this hotel, the people the government saw were people who came when the incident happened. So, nobody was in the hotel as a guest when the building collapsed”, he said.
Chairman of Prevention, Investigation, Failure and Analysis committee of Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), Engr. Raphael Oko said from a cursory engineering look of the building, there was a shell failure but the committee needed to study different aspect of design and construction of the building to come up with stamp point of the remote and immediate cause of its collapse.
“We have procedures in Engineering, we subject materials to laboratory test and the outcome of that laboratory test will guide us. We don’t just speak in isolation. We must identify whether the materials fall short of the standard, we will also get to the manpower use”, he said.
An eyewitness account said it building possibly collapsed owing to the overhead tanks mounted on it, the pressure which created cracks on the building walls.
Chinyere who is a student of Physical Sciences in Ebonyi State University told Citizens’ Advocate that the incident which occurred at evening hours of yesterday (Wednesday) drew the attention of residents, especially students living within the vicinity of the collapsed building.
According to her, there was panic among the residents, as people staying nearby and those that are doing businesses abandoned their business to see the collapsed hotel.
She recalled that there was a church housed by the hotel in the past, adding that she was not sure if the church was in session when the building collapsed, even as she commended the state government for acting promptly.