By Benjamin Omoike
In keeping with the promises of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of less than 48 hours ago, Lagos State Emergency Management Authority, LASEMA, has commenced post-disaster reconstruction of the Opebi Helicopter crash site of last Friday.
Reconstruction of the affected fence and buildings at 14 and 16, Salvation Road, Opebi in ikeja by the crashed helicopter, commenced Monday morning, following Mr. Governor’s pledge, made in company of Commissioner for Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Relations, Engr. Omotayo Bamgbose-Martins and the DG/CEO of LASEMA, Dr. Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyitolu on Saturday 29 August, 2020, during a hands-on visit and post disaster assessment of the crash site.
It would be recalled that Governor Sanwo-Olu, had, on Saturday, commended LASEMA, other emergency responders and security agencies for their swift response, when a Bell 206 Helicopter, belonging to Quorum Aviation, traveling into Lagos from Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital with two crew members and a passenger crashed in-between two residential buildings on Salvation Road in Opebi area of Lagos mid-day on Friday, killing two out of it’s three passengers instantly, and leaving the third critically injured.
During inspection of the Opebi helicopter crash-site on Saturday to assess the extent of damage caused by the crash, Governor Sanwo-Olu who sympathised with families of the deceased three during the crash, prayed for God to comfort their families and promised that Lagos State Government will conduct integrity tests on the affected buildings within a hundred metres radius and do necessary repairs to assist the affected families by restoring normalcy as quickly as possible.
Said he, “I am here to do a real on the spot assessment and I have seen things for myself. We thank God that as painful as the incident might be, the damage was not beyond what we have witnessed. We are pained by the death of the three people on board but we thank God because it could have been worse than that. The affected buildings are residential homes that have citizens living there. As at the exact time the helicopter crash happened, a lot of people were not in the premises and even the elderly people that were around and in their rooms. But as God would have it, nothing in terms of fatality, happened to people on the ground. So, we need to thank God. If not, fatality may have been a lot more than what we are talking about.
“As you can see the people affected are senior citizens; they are people in their 80s and 70s that I have come to condole with and also thank God for them. We have seen the level of destruction and damages. Tests will be conducted to understand the integrity of the buildings and once that is ascertained today or tomorrow, we will start work with the federal agencies. We will start the reconstruction and renovation of the places affected by the crash; the rooms, walls, tents and ensure that we quickly bring respite to the senior citizens that have been affected.”
Thereafter, the Governor restated his commitment to Lagosians, pledging to commence the reconstruction of the crash site from today, when said; “From Monday, we will start rebuilding the damaged structure and also assist in any areas the owners of the buildings need our assistance. We will also assist the senior citizens wherever they need help. We know that the incident has had some impact on them. We will give them whatever support we can give them to reduce their psychological, physical and emotional hardship, which may have been caused by the incident. We would be doing that for them as a government. The whole essence of governance is to ensure that once your citizens are affected like this, government need to rise up.”
Still speaking on the incident, Governor Sanwo-Olu commended all the federal and state agencies for their quick response and speedy intervention by moving to site of the crash shortly after the helicopter crash. “I want commend all our frontline workers, all the emergency staff that turned up with citizens in the neigbourhood that turned out in large number to help,” he said.
Commenting today, at commencement of reconstruction of the disaster area, the DG/CEO, LASEMA, Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu explained further, that beyond the conduct of integrity tests and impact assessments on the affected buildings and entire disaster area within 100 metres radius, immediate response of LASEMA to directives of Mr. Governor, has already started yielding results as journey of quick restoration to normalcy, has commenced with the clearing and reconstruction of the incident site.