Motorists on Eko Bridge may be heaving a sigh of relieve by weekend as the federal government says it will be opening one section of the bridge that takes them out from the Island to the Mainland by weekend.
That, according to the government, is preparatory to the reopening of the bridge which has been closed to traffic since after a fire incident that happened on Apongbon Bridge in March 2023.
“I think we should open that section of the bridge by weekend,” Olukorede Kesha, the controller of works in Lagos, told BusinessDay in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
Kesha who sounded so optimistic about the weekend opening of the bridge had told our reporter a couple of weeks ago that this section of the bridge would be opened by the middle of this month which is today, Thursday, June 15.
She did not however explain why the June 15 date was no not possible even as motorists continue to hope that the end of the month (June 30) date for opening the whole bridge would not suffer another setback after December 2022 and May 2023 scheduled dates failed.
Close watchers of progress of repair work on the burnt bridge are worried that it has taken the federal government whole 15 months to carry out mere repair work on it.
“This means that if they were to pull down and rebuild the bridge it would have taken eternity to get it done if only repair work takes more than a year to complete,” Isaac Folurunso, who lives in Ilupeju but works in Victoria Island, noted.
He lamented that government in Nigeria always treats public utilities with levity while giving all the attention to everything that concerns them, especially politics and elections.
The repair work on Apongbon Bridge 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.
Four different controllers of works have worked on this bridge and yet it is not over. Olukayode Popoola started the repair work on the bridge. Not along after, he was replaced by Forosola Oloyede who handed over to Umar Bakare who, in turn, handed over to Olukorede Kesha.
“That simply underscores the unseriousness with which the government treats the work on this very important route to the business hub of the country’s commercial nerve centre which, arguably, is the economic hub of West Africa,” Folurunso said.
“If they had wanted to treat the work as an emergency, one controller should have been kept on the job to see it through. I want to believe that there is no sense of emergency on this work,” he added, wondering if the June end date reopening the entire bridge would happen.
Since the two fire incidents on Apongbon and Eko Bridges in March and November 2022 respectively, it had been hellish for motorists who commute from the Lagos Mainland to the Island or from the Island to the Mainland until recently when fuel price hike forced many motorists to rethink their movement with their vehicles.
The route has seen less congestion, but it is not totally free as motorists, on a ’good’ day still spend hours commuting to the island from the mainland.