LAGOS—THE ever- busy Third Mainland Bridge closed for investigative maintenance test was reopened, yesterday, at about 5 pm for vehicular movement against 12 midnight, initially scheduled, as residents, motorists, commuters heaved a sigh of relief.
The Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, in collaboration with the Lagos State Government, had temporarily shut the bridge from last Thursday midnight, August 23 to midnight of August 26, 2018, to allow for the test to be carried out before embarking on proper repairs in future.
it is checks on the first day of the closure, Friday 24, August, showed terrible gridlock on the alternative routes provided despite the presence of traffic personnel on the ground.
Traffic personnel were, however, overwhelmed by the large volume of vehicular movements on the axis especially on the Island and Mainland.
Motorists and commuters along Ikorodu Road, Lagos –Abeokuta Expressway, Ahmadu Bello Way, Ozumba Mbadiwe Road, among other routes, witnessed traffic gridlock.
Many commuters were stranded in traffic while those who could not bear the long delay, trekked to their various destinations.
During the closure, the Lagos State Government deployed 350 men of the State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, while the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, deployed 200 personnel across the metropolis.
Motorists, commuters narrate ordeal
However, motorists and commuters, yesterday, expressed divergent views on traffic management during the closure.
While some lamented that they spent more time and paid over 60 percent increment for transport fares, due to the terrible gridlock experienced on alternative routes, others applauded the government for effective deployment of personnel to the alternative routes.
They, however, urged that the proposed construction of the Fourth Mainland Bridge should commence to further decongest the roads and other circular bridges in the state.
While expressing their views, motorists identified conversion of some alternative routes as a parking lot for articulated trucks as reasons the gridlock was further compounded.
A commercial driver, Mr. Sylvanus Ilo, who spoke to Vanguard at the Idumota Motor Park, commended the state government for providing alternative routes but lamented that the road was not smooth enough for vehicular movement.
Ilo said: “Traffic, in and out of Lagos Island, has been complicated since the closure of the Third Mainland Bridge. This was not due to insufficient alternative routes alone but also the activities of articulated trucks that led to a partial blockade of some alternative routes during the closure. We are glad that the bridge has been reopened earlier than scheduled and this will definitely reduce pressure and traffic on the road from tomorrow, (Today). “
While citing references, the commercial driver stressed that the route through Carter Bridge was and could not withstand the influx of vehicles plying it within minutes.
Apparently, to avoid the gridlock that would emanate from the closure, a commuter, Precious Adebisi, left home earlier but could not believe that she would spend over an hour at the bus stop waiting to board a commercial bus.
Adebisi, who expressed her displeasure over the closure and attendant traffic, said: “This Third Mainland Bridge closure has brought obvious torture. Could you imagine, I spent over an hour at the bus stop before I could later get a bus to board.”
She added that after struggling to board the bus, they were stuck in traffic and could not meet up with the resumption hours at the office.
Corroborating her, Miss. Hamdalat Akinwale, said “This traffic didn’t make the journey on the alternative route smooth. I remembered on Friday, I left the office a few minutes past 3.pm, over one hour later, we were not even close to Costain Bus stop.”
It was gathered that those who couldn’t withstand the traffic resulted in trekking long distance to reduce travel time.
Mr. Jude Chikwe says that the importance of the bridge comes to limelight whenever it was closed for repairs, saying, just imagine the traffic situation for anyone aiming to drive through Oyingbo to Yaba basically to link the Island.
“Some of us had to alight from buses after paying extra-fare because we don’t want to spend more hours in traffic. In fact, this closure has made us appreciate the importance of Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos. I can imagine what would have happened if some residents hadn’t travelled for Sallah festival,” he added.
Meanwhile, other motorist commended the State Government for deploying its personnel to manage the traffic, saying that “if the traffic personnel had not been increased, we wouldn’t have been able to complete any journey.”
“I must commend all agencies that worked during the closure. They tried and that is why the traffic didn’t spill to other parts of the state,” a motorist, Sule Adekanbi.
Ambode commends Lagosians for understanding
Meantime, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State has commended motorists for their cooperation, understanding and patience demonstrated throughout the period of the closure.
The Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Ladi Lawason, speaking through the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Taiwo Salaam, in a phone chat, said: “The Third Mainland Bridge will be reopened to traffic any time from 5.pm today, (yesterday).
“The engineers and experts working at the site have almost completed work on the bridge. If not for the persistent rains on Saturday that hindered the process and delayed work, the bridge would have been opened to traffic earlier today, (Sunday), against the scheduled time of 12 midnight.
“Governor Ambode, therefore, used this opportunity to thank the people of Lagos State, especially the media for their cooperation, understanding and patience throughout the period of closure.”
Giving assessment of the traffic situation during the period, Salaam described it as “impressive”, saying the only set back occasioned at the period was due to the activities of indiscriminate parking of articulated vehicles along Ikorodu Road which narrowed down traffic movement “but was efficiently contained by a team of traffic personnel deployed to manage traffic.”
It was a success — FG
Also speaking, the Federal Controller of Works, Adedamola Kuti described the exercise as a “success”, even as he commended the attitude of motorists during the period.
Kuti, however, said the bridge would not be totally shut when the proper repair works would be done, saying, “There will only be partial closure during the main repairs which will be done in phases.”
FG commences works on washout roads
Relatedly, the Federal Government has directed immediate remedial works on washout roads at five different locations across the country.
Giving the directive at the weekend, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola in a statement by Director Information, Theodore Ogaziechi, said: “The attention of the FG has been drawn to embankment and road washouts at five different locations across the country today which usual seasonal occurrences arise from heavy downpours around this period of the year and perhaps the current emergent global warming.
“The embankment washouts include 7+250 kilometre from Bida, along recently awarded Lambata-Bida road project to Messrs CGC Nigeria Plc, immediately after the Nigerian Cereal Institute in Niger State.
“The contractor has commenced immediate mobilization to the site on the directive of the ministry and will commence emergency reinstatement work by Sunday, August 26th to enable a free flow of traffic.
“Also in Niger State is the Armco Pipe collapse at km 16 along Bida – Minna, Niger State road. The Niger State Government has commissioned a Federal contractor on that corridor, Messrs Triacta Nigeria Plc. to restore the anomaly for safe passage.
“Other washouts are at Kwaita Bridge along Abuja – Lokoja carriageway where the subsisting contractor, Reynolds Construction Company has been directed to commence immediate remedial works; embarkment washout at Bayo LGA on the road linking Gombe–Biu in Borno State where FIK Construction Company on the corridor has been directed to move in and commence palliative measures and finally the embankment washout at Jabbi-Lamba Village along Yola – Mubi road before Girei LGA.”