The Lagos State government has handed over 4 hectares of land to the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos for the construction of Bethlehem Girls’ College that was destroyed by a gas explosion on March 15, 2020.
This is coming more than one year after the Abule-Ado explosion, regarded as Lagos’ worst gas explosion, which led to scores of deaths, destruction of properties, including Bethlehem Girls’ College, and displacement of some residents of the area.
Tayo Bamgbose-Martins, commissioner for Special Duties and lnter-Governmental Relations, who presented the land documents to representatives of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos on behalf of the state government, said the decision was in fulfilment of the promise made by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration for an inclusive Lagos.
He said in choosing the new site, the government ensured that the location of the land is convenient for students and staff of the school. He did not, however, state where exactly the school will now be sited.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos had requested that the new land to be allocated to Bethlehem Girls’ College be within the same locality to minimise disruption, especially for current students of the school.
In a BusinessDay report, dated March 15, 2021, to commemorate one year of the Abule-Ado explosion, the Lagos State government had said it was still in the process of finalising plans to hand over documents to a suitable place for the relocation of the school.
Bukola Ayinla, director, Technical Support Department, Lagos State Ministry of Special Duties and IGR, told BusinessDay that the site had been identified and the state government was processing the documents for handover of the land to the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.
Bamgbose-Martins, while presenting the land documents, highlighted the immediate interventions by the state governor following the incident last year. He said the governor visited the scene of the explosion, constituted the Ado-Soba Emergency Relief Committee and started off the Emergency Relief Fund with a donation of N250 million from the state government and additional donations made by private organisations and individuals.
He said the family of each of the 23 deceased persons was presented with a cheque of N2.5 million, meaning that a total sum of N57.5 million was paid as compensation. The hospital bills of victims admitted to Naval Hospital, LASUTH and the Orthopaedic Hospital were also paid.
According to him, 102 internally displaced persons from the Abule-Ado explosion were accommodated at the LASEMA Relief Camp, Agbowa, for six months and the cost of the accommodation and the feeding of these persons were borne entirely by the state government. Each family and individual was also given cash stipends to ease their integration into the society on exit from the camp.
The commissioner noted also that the state government expended funds on other activities to alleviate the distress of the residents when the incident happened, stressing that the government paid the Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) the sum of N50 million for repairs and replacement of the damaged equipment.
The government also engaged a team of professionals to conduct an assessment of the structural integrity of 315 buildings at no cost to the owners of the buildings.
Receiving the document, a representative from the Archdiocese of Lagos State, Monsignor Oduntan, applauded the state government for bringing succour to the victims of the Abule-Ado disaster.
He also commended the present administration for the donation of the 4 hectares of land and prayed that such calamity would never again happen in the state.
Other top officials present at the event included Idris Salako, Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Valentine Braimoh, chairman Amuwo-Odofin LGA, among others.
While the donation of the 4 hectares of land makes the list of the state’s intervention to support victims, there is still no clear plan to compensate victims who lost properties.