By Sunday Agbo, Abakaliki
The Ebonyi state government, Thursday sealed the Metro View Hotel located adjacent the College of Health Sciences (CHS) of Ebonyi State University (EBSU) pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation on the collapsed hotel.
Announcing the government action in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi state capital, the newly appointed special assistant to governor David Umahi on Capital Territory Development, Chief Ejem Okoro, said 60 persons escaped from the building.
Our correspondent reports that the hotel building plan was approved on 11th February, 2001 while it was built and inaugurated by a former minister of culture and tourism and an indigene of the state, Amb Frank Nchita Ogbuewu on 28th May, 2005.
His words, “We got a shocking news in the night that a wing of Metro View Hotel has collapsed and we immediately dispatched our men there.
“They saw that the building had collapsed and took photographs of it. We discovered that a wing of the hotel which looked like an attachment to the main building has pulled from the main building and the entire place collapsed.
“The fortunate thing was that so many people lodged there (but) nobody was injured and they have been re-located to another hotel.
“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.
Chief Autsine Orji, director of the hotel said they had noticed a crack on some of the pillars holding the building and 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.
“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 could 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 7:pm of that Wednesday, 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 that 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 causes 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 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 this newspaper that the incident, which occurred in the evening 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 even people staying in a nearby one-storey building and those doing businesses abandoned their business to witness the collapse.
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.
By Sunday Agbo, Abakaliki