Nigeria: Anxiety mounts as repair work on Africa's longest bridge begins

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Anxiety is growing among motorists and residents of the commercial city of Lagos, ahead of  the 1 July commencement of maintenance work on the third mainland bridge, regarded as Africa’s longest bridge.

“It was a bit hectic then for about three days as motorists found it difficult to get to their destinations because of the partial closure and diversion of traffic from the third mainland bridge to other roads," one of the motorists, Sukanmi Akoni, told PANA here Friday.

He was referring to 2008 when the repair work was first carried out on the 11.8-kilometre long bridge.

That scenario is about playing back itself, as residents feared that the partial closure of the bridge will compound the already chaotic traffic situation in the commercial city.

The third mainland bridge is the longest of the three bridges that link the main financial hub of Lagos Island with the residential and industrial parts of the mainland.

The other two are the Eko and Carter bridges.

As a strategic route, thousands of people commute from the outskirts of the coastal city through the third mainland bridge, mostly to their offices or to transact businesses on the high-brow Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Lekki areas, than through the other two bridges.

The multi-billion naira bridge was inaugurated in 1990 and was constructed by construction giants, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc. The repair work is been funded by the Nigerian government.

Officials of the Lagos state government said they are collaborating with the relevant federal government agencies to assist motorists navigate the roads when the repair work begins on 1 July through to 6 November, 2012.

“We are working together (with federal government agencies), we have held several meetings together to ensure that the work goes on smoothly. It is important that it is repaired so we can drive smoothly on it," the Lagos State Commissioner for works,  Obafemi Hamzat, told journalists.

He added, ”You will notice that when you get to a point on the bridge your car will make some noise. So one of the reasons is that there is the need to strengthen some of the joints well. It is for safety, it is for the bridge to last longer, so the repair work is necessary”.

Residents said they foresee a chaotic traffic situation that will result in spending longer hours on the roads and many man hours lost to traffic by workers, traders, school children and the public.

“I will expect the federal and the Lagos state governments to agree on who will take responsibility for traffic management. I will generally expect whoever manages the traffic to ensure that at the bridge is not totally closed because this might compound the situation," another motorist, Emmanuel Odeleye, suggested.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Kayode Opeifa, at a joints news briefing, said mechanism had been worked out to man the expected huge traffic situation.

He added that unlike what happened in 2008, the situation is far better now as more good roads that could serve as good alternative roads have been constructed.
-0- PANA SB/VAO 29June2012

29 june 2012 18:32:11

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