LAST WEDNESDAY NIGHT a building in the Jos Hansen Community on the United Nations (UN) Drive was gutted by fire and eventually led to a disaster as the building which is a three-storey crumbled to the ground leaving many trapped inside. When the building was on fire several individuals including fire fighters went on the scene to rescue those that were trapped inside but report has it that they were also trapped as the second floor caved in.
NEWS OF THE incident which is new to Liberia spread throughout the city of Monrovia which prompted officers of the Liberia National Police and the National Fire Service double their strength on the scene. Various agencies including the Ministry of Public Works and other line ministries moved men to the scene in a bid to provide rescue effort.
THE BUILDING WHICH was said to be housing some vehicles and other household materials continued to be ablaze under the debris as relief effort continued at a slow pace. Since the incident, it has been a little over forty-eight hours yet there is no news of how many persons lost their lives or were rescued. The report that is available is that since the disaster, three dead bodies had been recovered from the debris while there are unconfirmed reports that several persons including others who had gone into the building are feared dead.
WE SERIOUSLY APPLAUD the rescue effort by the various agencies and ministries but the shortage of earth moving equipment to carry on the exercise is a problem. With few trucks and front hand loaders from the Ministry of Public Works, the rescue effort is ongoing but at a slow pace. It is in this vein that we are calling on government and other humanitarian organizations as well as Liberia’s development partners to join hands in expediting the exercise. Indeed many persons are feared dead in that debris thus this effort must be adequately intensified not only to dig out bodies but be able to rescue survivors.
AS A MEANS of giving support to the rescue effort, Vice President Joseph Boakai and Justice Minister Cllr. Christiana Tah visited the scene of the disaster and expressed their regret. However, the government must also begin to speak out on the incident and give an update of those that are affected by the disaster as many families are awaiting news of their relatives who might have gone on the scene and have not returned home for the past forty-eight hours. Resources must be allocated to stimulate the rescue effort and those who are involved in the process.
AS WE REFLECT soberly on this disaster, those authorities responsible for construction works in our country must also put in place strong regulations that would ensure that buildings or structures built in a jammed-packed city like Monrovia are up to standard and meet the necessary construction requirement.