Sierra Leone’s National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) has received distress calls from residents of No. 14 Kissy Road in Freetown notifying the Agency about the collapse of a building that was predominantly used as a store and for business purposes.
NDMA’s Director-General, Lit. Gen. (Rtd) Brima Sesay, the Director of Relief and Response, Sinneh Mansaray and the Director of Monitoring and Evaluation, Abu Bakarr Bangura in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Police were very swift in responding to the call.
They visited the said structure during the heavy downpour of rain and took a proper assessment of the structure that will inform the next steps.
An initial assessment indicated that only the top floor of the three-storey building collapsed and that the first floor is occupied by people doing business and the second was mainly used as a storage facility where business people around the vicinity store their goods.
The report further revealed that there was no loss of life and no injury sustained. It also occurred to the team that residents on the top floor envisaged the possibility of a collapse hence, nobody was sleeping in it which possibly averted casualties.
It was also disclosed that the structural collapse was due to major cracks the first floor had endured for years, possibly as a result of poor engineering work and the use of substandard materials.
While making his statement to the affected victims and the media, the DG sympathized with them for what he described as a ‘blessing in disguise’, saying it would have been a different story if people were on that floor when the collapse happened.
The DG warned neighbours around to be very vigilant and careful. “I’m admonishing neighbours to be aware of this vicinity and maintain a safe distance from the remnant of the collapsed structure that is now compromised. We have equally evacuated all residents doing business on this fragile and delicate structure. We have also informed the Ministry of Works and have agreed to visit the scene and do a thorough infrastructure assessment and advise on the next steps”.
The DG continued: “The Sierra Police has also sealed off the entire structure and vouched to provide 24 hours security until we get recommendations from the Ministry of Works on what to do next. From our initial assessment, we are hopeful that if the remnant of the structure were to collapse, it would collapse inward which reduces the risk of damaging properties around”, he concluded.
The National Disaster Management Agency would like to assure the public that people occupying the first and second floors of the structure will not be allowed access until the Ministry of Works concludes its findings and proffer recommendations.
The public is also assured of NDMA’s unwavering commitments in not only responding to disasters but put in place measures to eliminate or reduce the impacts and risks of hazards before an emergency or disaster occurs.