Many more years of waiting and hoping for the actualisation of the long-anticipated Fourth Mainland Bridge lie ahead as the Lagos State government remains uncertain as to how and when to commence work on what will be a multibillion naira project in Nigeria’s commercial state. The state government, last year, announced it was shifting from the original alignment of the project due to encroachment over the years and this will entail redesigning the bridge to fit into the new alignment.
The idea was mooted in the days of former Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu who ruled between 1999 and 2007, but the design has taken several years. As of yesterday, no state official could confirm when the project would commence or how it would be funded. The government is not also clear about the funding model to be adopted whether it will be through direct funding or public private partnership (PPP) to actualise the long dream of having another link bridge connecting the island and mainland.
Ganiyu Johnson, the special adviser to the state government, painted a picture of uncertainty while answering questions posed to him by BusinessDay over the telephone, yesterday. Johnson said local and foreign engineers were still working on the design, but could not confirm when the design would be ready or what would be the cost implications. “It is a huge project and we are still working on the design. I cannot say when the design would be ready or when work would start on the bridge. I cannot also tell you what it would cost until the design is completed,” said Johnson who has been on the saddle as special adviser on works and infrastructure for eight years.
A source within the Government House, Alausa, Ikeja, told BusinessDay in confidence that he did not envisage the possibility of the next government after Governor Babatunde Fashola delving into the project. According to the source, the state government had huge projects running into billions of naira on its hands and the wise thing to do was complete them before taking on more multi-billion naira projects in the face of dwindling revenues accruing to its coffers.
The state government recently confirmed a drop in its monthly internally generated revenue (IGR) from N20 billion to N18 billion. “Let’s face the fact; I don’t think the Fourth Mainland Bridge is something the immediate government after Fashola would want to embark on. There are ongoing projects like the Lagos-Badagry Expressway expansion and the light rail which are being solely funded by Lagos State. Given their cost implications, I think that it is economically prudent to take one step at a time,” said the source.
Femi Hamzat, the state commissioner for works and infrastructure, sometime last year, said the government was considering three different alignment options for the bridge which was necessitated by the dilemma of having to demolish about 318 houses standing along the original alignment.