• Monday, June 24, 2024
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Eko Bridge: One more month of suffering for motorists as FG dithers

Eko Bridge: One more month of suffering for motorists as FG dithers

The daily dose of suffering motorists have been taking in the last 14 months on Eko Bridge as a result of the repair work on Apongbon Bridge in Lagos will not go away tomorrow as expected because the federal government could not complete the repair work by the end of May.

Less than 24 hours to the end of May, the federal government says reopening the bridge was no longer possible because repair work on the burnt bridge was still ongoing.

“Reopening the bridge tomorrow will not be possible; we are still working. We are now considering the end of June to reopen the bridge, all things being equal,” Olukorede Kesha, the new controller of works in Lagos, told BusinessDay in a telephone interview on Tuesday, May 30.

Kesha, however, raised some hope, saying, “All things being equal, the outbound carriageway of the bridge will be opened to traffic by the middle of next month (June); that is the lane that will take you from Apongbon to Alaka Bridge. That will be reopened,” the controller stressed.

Repair work on Apongbon Bridge which got burnt on March 23, 2022, started almost immediately. As a result, Eko Bridge which adjoins the burnt bridge was closed to traffic to enable the contractor handling the repair work to do a good job.

The repair work was scheduled to be completed in December 2022 and the bridge opened to traffic. But in November of that same year, a section of the Eko Bridge also got burnt, leading to the extension of the completion of work on Apongbon to May 2023 by Babatunde Fashola, the former minister of works and housing.

Since the two fire incidents on Apongbon and Eko Bridges in March and November 2022 respectively, it has been hellish for motorists who commute from the Lagos Mainland to the Island or from the Island to the Mainland at any given time of the day.

The long hours spent on the bridge and the transport cost have worsened in the last four weeks following the closure of the connecting bridge at Costain, compelling every vehicle coming from the Stadium, Surulere, Orile-Mile 2 axis to take Breweries Road, converge on Igamu Bridge and descend to the narrow Funso Williams Avenue to Ijora. From here, they find their way to the Island.

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To avoid this rigmarole and snail pace movement, some motorists, including those living in places like Surulere and Apapa, have chosen to take the devil’s alternative by finding their way to the island through the 11.8-kilometre Third Mainland Bridge which is several kilometres away from their homes.

“For me, it is the hard way, the only way because I cannot imagine 3-4 hours in traffic for a journey that, ordinarily, would not take me one hour, no matter how slowly I move. It pays me better to take that long route and at the end of the day, save myself the whole stress,” Jide Agboola, who lives in Surulere and works in Ikoyi, told this reporter.

Odinaka Omeihe, a Lagos resident who lives in the Ojo area of Lagos but works in Dolfin Estate, Ikoyi, shared his daily experience with this reporter, describing the volume of both human and vehicular traffic in and out of Lagos Island as incredible.

Omeihe, who goes to the Island every day using the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) which takes off at Ojo Barracks every morning, noted that Eko Bridge had become a nightmare, especially for those who go by private cars. These people, he added, spend the better part of their morning in traffic.

“It is not any better for other commuters too who go by commercial buses like Danfo, Korope or LT 300 buses. Most times these people, especially the traders, trek from Stadium or Costain to Lagos Island because there is no movement. Even we that use BRT take one-way (driving against traffic),” he said.