By Taiwo Okanlawon
Three trafficked children serving as workers in a construction site in Lagos have been rescued by the Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory, LSMTL during enforcement visit to construction sites in Lekki axis.
The victims who are minors were from Benin Republic serving as labourers at the construction sites visited by LSMTL.
Dr Afolabi Abiodun, the General Manager of LSMTL who also ordered the sealing of 22 high-rise buildings and four estates for non-compliance to quality assurance in the area, during the enforcement warned developers against child labour.
The agency also collected water samples from the sealed construction sites for analysis.
Abiodun stressed the need for safe water during construction.
The general manager reacting to the rescued children serving as labourers said, “It is child abuse, developers should not use children for construction.
“Look at the children, if we estimate, they are less than 10 years old. What will a 10-year- old be doing on a construction site,” the LMSTI boss said.
He said that the enforcement was necessary to assess the structural integrity of buildings, to stem the tide of building collapses, in line with Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s zero tolerance for building collapse in the state.
He called on owners of completed high-rise buildings to carry out non-destructive tests every five years, to ensure the structural stability of their buildings.
Abiodun advised construction companies, developers, estate agents, builders and other stakeholders in the built environment to comply with the directive for testing their construction materials.
He said that such tests should be for ongoing and completed buildings to avert the danger of building collapse in the state.
The general manager said that some estates had in the past refused officials of the LSMTL to carry out tests on their building materials and also ignored notices served on them to submit samples for testing.
He told the workers on a site near the popular 1,004 Estate, along the Ozumba Mbadiwe Way, that it was on record that the place had been served notices.
“What we have done here is partial sealing because we understand that you must go in and out.
“Tell your engineer to bring evidence of all tests conducted to the Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory”, he said.
Abiodun also said that his team discovered that on some of the sealed sites, the engineers used 10mm iron rods for columns of buildings where the least thickness required was 16mm.
He decried the wrong foundations being laid for buildings on the axis which are mostly wetlands, adding that, the LSMTL was going to carry out urgent tests on some of the foundations to avert risks of collapse.
Property owners who did not ascertain the structural stability of their buildings risk sanctions,” the general manager said.
He noted that using the right materials and carrying out the required soil tests would prevent construction failure.
Abiodun urged the public to patronise the LSTML to ensure that they test their construction materials for quality to guarantee structural integrity to avert building collapse.
However, some of the trafficked children working as construction workers told journalists they were working as brick layers and painters on site.
They said their daily wages of N400.00 per child were usually paid to their masters while they remained on site to work.