BusinessDay

Eko bridge: Contractor raises concerns, says repair work to end June 2023

…as Fashola tasks Lagos government on underbridge trading

The contractors handling the repair work of Eko Bridge, Buildwell Plants and Equipment Industries, on Thursday, raised concerns among motorists, saying that the reopening of the bridge may not come any time earlier than May/June 2023.

This has dashed motorists’ expectations that the bridge which has been closed to traffic since March 2022 will no longer be reopened in December this year as earlier promised by the federal government.

The implication of this is that the hell that daily driving experience on the bridge has become in the last seven months will continue in which case motorists have either to brace for more stress or take alternative routes and endure longer travel time to their destinations.

To deepen the new reality, George Mohanna, Director of Construction at Buildwell Plants and Equipment Industries, noted that the completion of the repair works was tied to the availability of bridge components.

Mohanna, who spoke during an inspection of the Bridge by Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing, disclosed that the initial components imported for the bridge repair were deployed for emergency purposes.

The first of such purposes, he said, was Agbonpon Bridge after the fire incident on it in March this year. The second is the Ijora-Olopa axis of the bridge after the latest fire outbreak that occurred last week. “We will see how to fast-track importation of bridge components,” Mohanna assured.

Responding, Fashola, revealed that the federal government was reaching out to the Lagos State government on modalities to evacuate all illegal occupants operating under the bridges in the state.

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“We are reaching out to the Lagos State government, telling them that they have our support,” Fashola, said, lamenting that the money that could have been deployed to provide additional infrastructure for Lagos was now being deployed for the emergency repairs of the bridge.

He charged Lagosians to take a collective action against the frequent fire outbreak so that such would not happen again in the state. “We are at a point of tough laws; we don’t want to see trading that endangers other people’s lives,” Fashola said, describing the incident as “one fire too many.”

The minister warned Lagosians to stop trading under the bridges as such action is responsible for the collective pains currently being experienced across the state with the closure of the bridge.

“Under the bridges are not market places. When we shut the bridge, it was because we could no longer take the risk,” Fashola said.

On his part, the Lagos State deputy governor, Obafemi Hamzat, said that people should understand the negative implication of having incessant fire outbreaks around critical public assets.

“If actions are not taken, the bridge will collapse. We must do the right thing,” he said, assuring the populace that the state government would help them to live the right way.

According to the deputy governor, the negative activities of people trading under the bridges in Lagos were reducing the economic activities of other citizens, adding that these activities were making Lagosians spend longer time commuting within the metropolis.

Oluropo Oyetade, director, highways & bridges, while explaining the extent of damage caused by the latest fire outbreak, disclosed that the integrity test would commence today (Friday).

According to him, about 106 bearings on the 4.1 kilometers bridge were completely bad, which necessitated the initial award of contract for the repairs on March 15 this year before the two fire incidents.

The emergency repair work on Eko Bridge is divided into five sections by the contractor. These are the Lagoon-Ijora; Apongbon; Ijora-Olopa; changing of failed bearing, and over the lagoon axis.