• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Relief as FG reopens Third Mainland Bridge, motorists relive experiences

Third Mainland bridge reopens to delight of motorists

For motorists who commute through the Third Mainland Bridge (TMB) in Lagos, it was a huge sigh of relieve as the federal government reopened the bridge which had been partially closed in the last 14 weeks. The bridge was closed on Tuesday, January 9, 2024.

The 11.8-kilometre bridge is the longest of three bridges connecting Lagos Island to the mainland. The others are the Eko and Carter bridges. It was the longest bridge in Africa until 1996 when the 6th October Bridge located in Cairo was completed. This underscores the negative impact of its closure.

Read also: Third mainland bridge in Lagos reopens to delight of motorists

David Umahi, the minister for works who declared the bridge open at the Oworonsoki end of the bridge commended all who were affected one way or another by the closure of the bridge for their patience, saying that the pain was for the interest of all.

The minister who was represented at the event by the federal controller of works, Olukorede Kesha, said that though some aspects of the rehabilitation work have not been completed, like the solar lighting of the bridge, the bridge has to be opened while work continued.

Read also: Third Mainland Bridge to open April 4, FG assures

“The rehabilitation work is about 95 percent completed. Work is still on-going, but what remains to be done will not disrupt the flow of traffic, the minister assured, hoping that the entire repair work will be completed in May 2024 and will be then be commissioned by President Bola Tinubu,” he said.

The minister thanked Governor Sanwo-Olu for the able way his people managed traffic on the bridge while the rehabilitation work lasted.

The governor in a message to Lagosian which was conveyed on his X (Twitter) on Thursday, said he was pleased to announce the full reopening of the bridge after extended repair works have been completed to ensure its safety and efficiency for all residents.

He commended the people’s patience and resilience during this period, saying that those qualities as exhibited by Lagos residents have been paramount in maintaining the city’s economic momentum.

“I extend my deepest gratitude to HE President @officialABAT and the Honourable Minister of Works, David Umahi for their expedited focus and attention to detail on the Third Mainland Bridge project. Their commitment has significantly contributed to the timely and quality completion of these necessary improvements,” he said.

“As we embrace the smoother journeys that the newly renovated bridge provides, it also calls for a renewed emphasis on road safety. Our shared commitment to safety ensures not only our wellbeing but also the wellbeing of other road users,” the governor added.

The state’s traffic management agency, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) had on Wednesday, ahead of the reopening of the bridge, warned motorists against over speeding on the bridge, saying that any motorist that goes beyond 80km/h would face the consequences.

Adebayo Toafiq, the LASTMA spokesperson, said motorists should maintain speed limits while driving on the long stretch of the newly renovated bridge, advising that “motorists must be conscious of time and plan their journey ahead to avoid unnecessary speeding while using the bridge and other link roads across the state.

Though motorists are now happy with the reopening of the bridge, a couple of them who spoke to BusinessDay while they waited to see the bridge reopened on Thursday, said it was a nightmare while the closure lasted.

“I live in Ketu and work on the Island. This bridge is my route any day. But it was not easy these past three months plus. I spent upwards of four hours to commute to work for a journey that ordinarily should not take one two hours. Recall that this is a period in Nigeria when fuel is gold,” a motorist who identified himself simply as Kelvin said.

Kelvin noted that apart from the man-hour lost everyday on the bridge, there was also the aspect of stress on both the body and the vehicle plus the economic loss in terms of extra-money spent on fuel and, in some cases, business appointments missed.

Another motorist, a commercial bus driver who identified himself as Wasiu Akintoye, said he goes to CMS and Obalende from Oshodi on daily basis. “It was really a difficult time but I pitied my passengers more because they paid for the time lost on the bridge. I charged them more.

Before the closure of the bridge, we were charging like N700-N800 to Obalende, but we have to increase it to N1,200 and N1,500 depending on the period of the day. Some of my colleagues changed route but I continued but, ‘I no lie you,’ it was tough,” he said.

Third Mainland Bridge is a very strategic piece of infrastructure in Lagos but has this ‘reputation’ for traffic congestion even under normal circumstances. The man-hour loss on the bridge is a major proportion of the estimated 14.2 million man-hours lost by Lagosians while commuting to work every day.

A Lagos based research institute called Danne Institute for Research says in its Connectivity and Productivity Report that Lagos loses about N4 trillion annually to its traffic congestion problem. This calls for concerted efforts by the federal and Lagos State governments to improve maintenance of both the federal and state infrastructure to save this huge economic loss.