• Friday, June 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

Why motorists spend longer hours on Eko Bridge

Eko-Bridge-Traffic

The Federal Government has explained why motorists on Eko Bridge in Lagos have had to endure pains and stress of staying in gridlock longer than necessary, citing a failed portion of the bridge on approach to Alaka.

For motorists on the bridge, also called Second Mainland Bridge, it has been long tortuous days commuting from the Island to National Stadium en-route Ikorodu Road, as traffic slows when navigating through the failed portion.

Many have asked if the government whose duty it is to maintain both roads and bridges, and fix promptly any identified problems on strategic routes like Eko Bridge, is aware of the problem and its implications for people’s health, business and the economy.

“Yes, we are aware of the problem on Eko Bridge and that is the good thing about that. But we cannot afford to close the two sections of the bridge in order to effect a comprehensive repair. Recall that the Apapa bound lane has been closed at the Alaka end,” Adedamola Kuti, director, Highways, South West, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, explained to BusinessDay on phone Tuesday.

“We have however mobilised the contractor, Buildwell, to move to the failed portion and do some palliative work there so that traffic can move. But you know how this works. The contractor has to do some measurements and get the materials for work. All these will take a little while. We are, therefore, appealing to the motoring public to be patient with us,” Kuti said.

He assured that because of the partial closure of the Third Mainland Bridge and the location of Eko Bridge as a strategic alternative route, the palliative work would be done expeditiously to free motorists from the long hours spent on the bridge on a daily basis.

The Federal Government has chosen to undertake the repair of three main bridges in Lagos at the same time. While both Third Mainland Bridge and Marine Beach Bridge are partially closed, allowing motorists to drive with difficulty through narrow, snaking lanes, Eko Bridge is totally closed to traffic at the Alaka end.

Babatunde Fashola, minister of works and housing, explained when he came on inspection of the ongoing maintenance work on Third Mainland Bridge that government decided to work on the three bridges “so that Lagosians can have better driving experience when we are done.

“This is a result of many years of not maintaining the bridges; we are doing what should have been done many years ago. I salute you people for your patience and understanding, bearing in mind that the pains of today would turn to gains for all of us tomorrow.”

The Apapa-bound carriageway on Eko Bridge was closed abruptly about seven months ago by the Federal Ministry of Works, citing broken joints and bearings that could cause serious problems if the bridge remained open to motorists.

Kuti quoted the minister as saying that repair work on that section of the bridge would be completed before Third Mainland Bridge. Buildwell, which is working on Marine Beach Bridge, is also the contractor in charge of the repair of Eko Bridge.

Meanwhile, motorists have continued to endure the pains in heavy traffic build-ups on alternative routes since repair works on the Third Mainland Bridge commenced July 24.

Their experiences are, however, being compounded by frequent accidents and breakdown of trucks on some of the alternative routes, notably Ikorodu Road.

On Tuesday, August 4, for example, the stretch between Obanikoro and Fadeyi on Ikorodu Road was near-lockdown following an accident involving a tanker laden with diesel and a trailer. The tanker was said to be racing against the truck when it crashed on the BRT lane and blocked part of the main carriageway, forcing motorists and commuters to spend precious man-hours as they struggled to redirect trip through the service lane inward Anthony Bus Stop.

For hundreds of other motorists, it was equally a rather tough journey driving into the Lagos Island through Yaba-Oyingbo-Iddo route, as the route was characterised by heavy inflow of traffic. It was made worse by trading/commercial activities around Oyingbo and Iddo Market, which combined to slow down traffic, with officials of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and policemen engrossed in managing the situation.

Speaking with BusinessDay, the general manager of LASTMA, Olajide Oduyoye, blamed the intractable situation on some of the alternative routes on drivers’ impatience.

“Tell me why a driver of a tanker laden with diesel would be racing against another truck?” Oduyoye queried, noting that managing the traffic would not pose a serious challenge if motorists adhered to the rules.

Oduyoye decried a situation where motorists, especially commercial drivers, would create three lanes on a road designed as two lanes. He also took a swipe at motorists who would deliberately get on the Third Mainland Bridge to the point where it is closed only to claim that “they never knew about the closure” and “then begin to drive one-way on the other lane which itself is a crime.”

To check frequent tanker/truck accidents, Oduyoye advocated that the owners of such trucks be held responsible for the wrong doing of their drivers, and called for the linkage of Bank Verification Number (BVN) to driver’s licence, as this would ensure that every traffic offender was made to pay the appropriate fine.