By Eric Elezuo
With effect from today, the busiest highway in Nigeria, the Third Mainland Bridge will be partially shut to traffic to undergo rehabilitation. There have been reports of some worn-out joints of the bridge, which raised some safety concerns for the users of the bridge. The closure, without doubt, is going to be the harbinger of envisaged stress, and motorists will have a hard time in assessing the island from the mainland and vice versa. However, the Federal Government, in conjunction with the Lagos State government, has since the date of announcement of the partial closure, made plans to ease whatever stress or hardship motorists may likely face.
The 11.8km Bridge is the longest of three bridges connecting Lagos Island to the mainland. The bridge starts from Oworonshoki which is linked to the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and ends at the Adeniji Adele Interchange on Lagos Island. It was constructed in 1990 and was adjudged as the longest in Africa until 1996 when the October 6 Bridge in Cairo, Egypt was completed. The last time the bridge was closed to the public was in August, 2018 when it underwent a three day investigative maintenance check.
“The Federal Ministry of Works has repaired Iddo-Oyingbo Road, we asked the contractor, Messrs Borini Porini, to go there and fill the pot holes, which they have done.
“We also cleared the drains there after our meeting with stakeholders on July 11th.”
He added that CCECC was also deployed to fix failed portions of the Independence Tunnel on Ikorodu Road on Thursday.
He stressed that Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) on their part had fixed bad portions and cleaned drains at Ijora Olopa just as the Lagos State Government agreed to fix bad portions around the Iganmu Bridge while its public works agency was also fixing some other roads.
“I was with the Special Adviser to Gov Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Wednesday and they promised to address the failure around the Iganmu Bridge.
“And I am sure they have started because they are working with the Lagos State Public Works Corporation,” he said.
The stakeholders in the project including the Federal and Lagos State governments identified accessible roads to guide motorists and reduce travel time during the partial closure of the Third Mainland Bridge for rehabilitation works scheduled to begin on July 24, 2020.
While jointly inspecting alternative routes, the state government approved the use of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes for Lagos State Bus Services Ltd to move commuters during the period.
Popoola, who affirmed the importance of the routes, stated that the outward Lagos Island lane of the bridge would be partially closed to traffic by midnight of July 24, 2020 for the commencement of rehabilitation works.
He said that the ministry would close the Oworonshoki-bound carriageway first for three months and thereafter move to the Island-bound to replicate the repairs.
On his parts, Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Aramide Adeyoye, said that priority would be given to people on the Mainland connecting the Island in the morning to use the bridge while those living on the Island would be required to use alternative routes, adding that commuters leaving Lagos Island to the Mainland would also have priority to use the bridge in the evening to reduce congestion.
“If you are living in Victoria Island or Ikoyi, you can use alternative routes such as Eko Bridge or go through Iddo-Carter Bridge. You can now take Herbert Macaulay.
“Other inner roads are also available. You can also go through Adekunle, Glover, and the side roads. Motorists can make use of Costain. We will make efforts to make the roads motorable during this six months,” she said.
She further hinted that the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, had given permission for construction works at night in spite of the curfew imposed by the Federal Government to flatten coronavirus curve in the country.
Also, the Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Fredrick Oladeinde, said that apart from the alternative routes already mapped out, water transportation options were being made viable to give residents additional options.
Reacting to the closure, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), especially those with factories situated in industrial clusters around Apapa, Epe and Badagry Expressway have said alternative roads for commuters were in a state of partial closure, saying the timing for the closure was wrong.
In his statement, the Branch chairman, Frank Onyebu, appealed to the government to delay commencement of work on the Third Mainland Bridge until some of the alternative access routes had been completed and opened to traffic. He identified the close alternative routes to include Eko bridge and Apapa bridge.
“While we commend the government’s plan to repair the bridge, we believe that the timing is wrong.
“This bridge being a major link connecting the mainland to the island is one of the key life wires of the economy.
“Our concern arises from the fact that some of the alternative access routes are also in some form of partial closure. These include Eko Bridge by Costain roundabout, Apapa Bridge by Ijora, etc,” he said.
TRAFFIC WILL WORSEN
A cross section of Lagosians who spoke to the Boss, expressed fears that the already bad traffic situation in Lagos, will likely get worse, and will be difficult to tolerate for the six months duration of the closure.
Mr Adewale Sotunbi, who lives in Gbagada, but works in Lekki, said it is really going to be a tough call, but is compensated by the fact that traffic will be open from the mainland to the island in the morning, and also open from the island to the mainland in the evening.
“Of course it will never be the same though it looks like those of us on the mainland have an advantage. It will definitely be a tough call,” he said.
In his reaction, Madu Godswiil, a resident of Surulere was not as optismistic. He berated the government for what he called insensitivity. According to him, there is practically no road in Lagos which can really be said to be in good order.
“This closure means more traffic will now flow to Carter and Eko Bridges. However, part of the Eko Bridge, from the Alaka end of the Western Avenue (Funsho Williams Avenue) had been closed to traffic for some months now. Why is it difficult for this government to complete job on one section before closing another? Access to Eko Bridge is not very guaranteed; Carter Bridge has never a best option as a result of the deep gully around Iddo, and Ijora is a no go area,” he said
Meanwhile, Popoola has insisted that traffic management plans must be perfected before work of Third Mainland Bridge begins. The closure as at 11:59pm is a clear indication that the traffic plans may have been perfected. He stated the agency’s readiness for the work, saying that “everything being expected for the repairs of the bridge arrived the country that is why we want to start the repairs now.’’
While dousing the tension generated among commuters and motorists following, the Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said only about 25 per cent of the regular traffic on the bridge would be affected while 75 per cent of vehicles that normally ply the route will still have access to move on the bridge during the period of repair.
The Federal Government will be working with the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) on how best traffic during this period.
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