BusinessDay

Eko Bridge: FG reassures on December deadline as motorists woes deepen

The federal government has, once again, assured motorists and other road users, especially those going to or coming out of Lagos Island through Eko Bridge, that it is optimistic of completing the repair work on the burnt Akbongbon Bridge in December as scheduled.

Forosola Oloyede, an engineer, and acting controller of works in Lagos, who expressed this hope on Monday in a brief telephone interview with BusinessDay, pleaded with Lagos residents for more patience while they continued with the repair work.

“Work is ongoing on the bridge and we are hopeful it will be completed in December as scheduled; it is not our intention to put the public through this hardship; after all, we are also part and parcel of the public; we feel their pain,” Oloyede said.

“We are through with the columns (pillars); we are now working on the median—the heavy concrete slabs we use to demarcate the roads. The major work that remains is the replacement of the bearings; we are working and our aim is to finish the work and end the suffering on that bridge,” she added.

Since March 23, 2022, when a section of the Akpongbon Bridge was burnt by fire, leading to the closure of the Eko Bridge, it has been a harrowing experience for motorists driving through the bridge. Apart from the stress and long commuting time, it has also increased travel costs from Mainland to the Island by over 100 percent.

Apparently, the worst-hit motorists are those who live on the island and have their businesses in Apapa or they live in Apapa and have their offices or businesses on the Island. To avoid the long hours in traffic and the health implications, many of these people take the Third Mainland Bridge which triples their journey time.

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Their woes have been deepened by the closure of the outbound lane of the Marine Bridge which is currently undergoing major repair that will last till December 20 from August 20 when it started.

“For us in Apapa, it is a return to the trenches. We are back to pre-February 2021 days when the port city was avoided like leprosy because of traffic gridlock,” Emma Ameke, a port worker observed.

For 12 whole years, Apapa was a no-go area until February 27, 2021, when the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in collaboration with the Lagos State government introduced the Eto App, a technology that was used to control and regulate the movement of trucks in and out of the port city

A combination of challenges arising from the repair work on Akpongbon Bridge, the repair work on Marine Bridge and the collapse of Apapa-Ijora Road by Funso Williams Avenue has made commuting to Apapa a nightmare once again and motorists have up to December to endure the pain.

The government is however appealing for patience because, according to the Acting Controller, “we need to do the work and do it very well; and it will take time. We don’t want to do it halfway. It is better we take our time and do it once and for all. So, let’s just bear the pain once and for all too.”

But Ameke said that government needs to be reminded that time is money, adding that it was unimaginable that a big commercial city like Lagos could subject citizens to the kind of hardship they go through.

“What is happening in Apapa or Eko Bridge is happening everywhere else. If not places like Ikoyi and Victoria Island, which other area is free of gridlock in this state; none; yet we make noise every day about being Africa’s model mega and smart city. Tell me what is smart about a city in static motion,” Ameke queried.