The federal government, Thursday evening, said both Eko and Apongbon Bridges which had been closed to traffic for months, would be reopened by midnight of Sunday, July 9, 2023 while motorists will start using the bridges from Monday morning of July 10.
Though the new date is a downward review of the reopening date scheduled earlier in the week for July 15, the Federal Controller of Work s in Lagos, Olukorede Kesha, had told BusinessDay exclusively that the bridge would be reopened by end of June, which would have been tomorrow, June 30.
The new reopening date was decided on after an inspection tour of the two bridges by a team of engineers from the federal and Lagos State ministry of works who said they were satisfied with the extent of work done so far on the two bridges.
Omotayo Awosanya, Director, Highways, Bridges and Designs at the Federal Ministry of Works, who announced the new date, explained that the decision to reopen the bridges was to reduce hardship faced by Lagos residents, adding that, when the bridges were re-opened, there would still be intermittent short closures to continue repairs.
Awosanya stressed that the downward review of the reopening date was borne out of the need to relieve stress commuters have undergone for almost a year since fire gutted Apongbon section and later Ijora Olopa section of Eko Bridge.
“We have come here to urge the contractor to reduce five days out of the July 15; we are now going to open the bridge on July 9 at midnight. And a minute after 12.00 am of that day, the bridge will be opened to traffic on July 10t,” he said.
The Director attributed the completion of the repair work to the close collaboration between the federal and Lagos State governments “because we are mindful of the stress the closure of this bridge has caused Lagosians and we have put pressure on the contractor to open the bridge on Monday, July 10. This will reduce the stress presently on other bridges connecting the Mainland to the Island.”
Kesha appreciated the Lagos public for their patience while the repairs of both bridges lasted. She appealed to them to be vigilant and report illegalities and vandalism, adding that, they should take ownership of all infrastructure to prevent wastage of scarce resources that go into repairs.
The Apongbon Bridge which has been undergoing repair in the last 15 months was gutted by fire on March 23, 2022 following illegal trading activities under the bridge by Lagos residents. The completion of repair work on the bridge was scheduled for December 2022.
The date did not happen because, before that date, precisely on November 4, 2022, the Ijora Olopa section of Eko Bridge was also gutted by fire, leading to suspension of work on the Apongbon Bridge for emergency response to the new fire incident.
Visiting Babatunde Fashola, then minister of works and housing, to both bridges to assess the extent of damage, announced a shift of the date for reopening Apongbon bridge from December 2022 to May 2023.
From December 2022 to May 2023 to June 2023, repair work has yet to finish on the two bridges. But July 9 is a new hope of an end to over one year of stress, pain and misery on a public infrastructure.