The Federal and Lagos State governments have pledged to take action on the repair of the Eko and Apongbon bridges. Traders and illegal occupants under the bridges would also be evicted.
Declaring zero tolerance for the abuse of bridges, they hinged the action on the need to save lives and protect the infrastructure. While inspecting the bridges in Lagos, on Thursday, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, and officials of the Lagos State Government declared their intention.
Fashola said efforts to quickly rehabilitate the Eko Bridge were slowed down when Apongbon Bridge was gutted by fire in March. He noted that construction materials imported for the completion of the Eko Bridge were deployed to begin urgent repairs on Apongbon Bridge.
The minister said that efforts to repair the Apongbon Bridge before Christmas had also been frustrated by another fire that affected the Ijora Olopa section of the Eko Bridge on November 4.
Fashola said: “The government would not be able to actualize its plan of completing repairs on Apongbon Bridge because its materials had been deployed to the burnt section of Eko Bridge. Sadly, there would not be Apongbon Bridge for Christmas.” He enjoined the contractor on the project to give technical details of how casings and other components were being used for rehabilitation on both bridges.
The minister lamented the hardship faced by road users, noting that the fire incidents were due to the illegal activities of a few residents, which could lead to the collapse of the bridge. He said that the decision to shut the Ijora Olopa section of the Eko Bridge pending integrity tests was a painful one.
The minister said it was, however, to avert a gory situation where a bridge weakened by fire would collapse and lead to loss of lives.
Fashola noted that the delivery date of Apongbon Bridge, earlier fixed for December 2022, had been extended to May 2023 because of the emergency repair of the Ijora Olopa section.
Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, said quick action would be taken against illegal occupants under the Eko Bridge. This, he said, was due to the hardship their activities had inflicted on commuters as a result of the closure of the bridge.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederick Oladehinde, said the state and federal traffic regulatory agencies would collaborate towards managing traffic and diversion points.
He also explained the traffic management architecture and how motorists could navigate due to maintenance work on both bridges. Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Works and Infrastructure, Mrs. Aramide Adeyoye, said that repairs had been carried out on Herbert Macaulay Way, one of the routes for traffic diversion, to ease gridlock.
Director of Construction, Buildwell Plants and Equipment Industries Ltd, the project contractors, Mr. George Mohanna, explained that the Ijora Olopa and Apongbon bridges are under reinforcements and repairs.
The Director, of Highways, Bridges, and Design, Mr. Oluropo Oyetade, said Eko Bridge, built in 1969, first underwent maintenance in 1975 when it was upgraded. He said it did not undergo any other maintenance until 2021.
Oyetade noted that recalcitrant occupants and traders did not keep the promise they made to the minister when they pleaded to be given one month’s extension, after the expiration of the ultimatum given them to leave.
Source: The Guardian