Traffic on Third Mainland Bridge
After four months of repairs on the Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos residents who commute across the lagoon using the roads linking the bridge to their destinations are happy that the long and slow journey is gradually giving way to normalcy, writes Adeola Akinremi
Until last week, connecting Lagos Island from its Mainland and other parts of the state was like reminiscence of Thomas Stearns Eliot’s Journey of the Magi. For a journey, such as Ikeja to Marina was long, hard and tough. Though, no Carmel galled for as long as it lasted, it was the commuters, Lagos yellow bus drivers and private car owners who pinched. Hard and bitter agony for everyone with businesses and schedules across the ocean, it was just the worst time of the year.
With motorists, passengers and other road users cursing and grumbling; vehicles damaged or at least stopped to cool off the overheating sign suggesting the cars were running at a higher temperature and sometime fixing worn out or deflated tyres, slowing their progress to a snail’s pace, the fuel scarcity exacerbated their fury.
All that changed on Monday, October 29, when the Federal Government re-opened the road for goods and passengers traffic.
A road that measures about 11.8 km in length, the Third Mainland Bridge is the longest of the three Lagos bridges connecting Lagos Island to the mainland. The other two are the Eko and Carter bridges. The third mainland bridge is known to be the longest in Africa. The bridge starts from Oworonshoki which is linked to the Apapa-Oshodi expressway and Lagos-Ibadan expressway, and ends at the Adeniji Adele Interchange on Lagos Island.
There is also a link midway through the bridge that leads to the Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba. It was built by Julius Berger Nigeria PLC and opened by President Ibrahim Babangida in 1990. Though refuted many times by the government, there have been rumours milling round the city that the bridge was weak and in dilapidated shape. But for the bridge not to become a comedy of tragedy, the government suddenly announced its closure in June this year.
Mr. Olawale Makanjuola who works at an IT company on Lagos Island said: “We have had a terrible experience in the last four months that the third mainland bridge was closed.”
But for Makanjuola, all is well that ends well, “I am happy that in the end we have a good and solid road to pass. It has been a risk passing over a shaky bridge, so whatever problem or difficulty that Nigerians have faced in the last four months would pass. The fact that the reconstruction was finished in good time also helps to erase that memory.”
The repairs on the bridge was undertaken by Messrs Borini Prono Company Limited for hydro demolition of sections of the bridge deck, removal of existing 11 joints, provision and fixing of new dywidag and Gewi bars and reinstatement of the deck.
The contractor began work on the bridge on July 6, 2012 and was expected to complete the job for the bridge to be opened by November 6, 2012. But the contractor completed the job 10 days ahead of schedule to bring relief to users of the bridge who have suffered the inconveniences associated with the closure. The Borini Prono was a member of the consortium that originally built the bridge. Other members of the consortium included Messrs Inco S.P.A. Ingegneri and Consulenti of Milan of Italy, the original designers that acted as consultant for the repair at the sum of N1, 055, 477, 608.
An appraisal report of the bridge in its earlier state had shown that 11 joints with vertical gaps greater than 10 millimeters along the Lagos inbound carriageway were in very critical state and required immediate repairs, seven joints along the Lagos inbound carriageway and four along Lagos outbound carriage way which had vertical gaps between four and 10 millimetres were on border line. Also, 16 joints on the inbound and 19 joints on the outbound carriageways required regular cleaning. Four joints were restored in an earlier contract executed by the Federal Ministry of Works in 2008.
And now, Ngozi Chuckwu, a Lagos resident says, “ we have our third mainland bridge back, we have left the people of Western Avenue alone.”
Her statement is true. The Ikorodu road linking Western Avenue across Ijora Bridge to Eko bridge and finally down at Apongbon was undoubtedly overstretched. The road had become too small and broad for nothing.
Perhaps the closure sends one message. It is that, Lagos cannot do without the third mainland bridge. It serves both commercial and social purposes. Thousands of Nigeria businesses have their headquarters located on Lagos Island and social life is at its best in some of the city’s biggest malls and cinemas like Siverlbird Galleria, City Mall, Muson Centre, Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos Tennis Club and many others in their ilk, all across the ocean.
Jaye Akeem, a yellow bus driver said: “I lost time, money and social life during the closure, but now I am set for a recovery of all. I am going to spend more hours on the road than before because we are getting into the festive period, the bridge is good to ply and there would be more passengers commuting from the Island to the Mainland.”
The Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, while briefing the media on the reopening of the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, disclosed that the Federal Government would adopt the current model used for the bridge to attend to faulty bridges nationwide, including the Carter Bridge in Lagos.
But, in Lagos where life is in a hurry, a slow movement of traffic the citizens say is the problem of the coaster city and to close one of their roads in the midst of the hustling and burstling may be a sledge hammer. And, the Lagos residents for whom they are still want the best of everything, “God forbid that we have tragedy of any kind in this city, it will touch every family, so the repair on the bridge is what we endorsed wholeheartedly,” declares Tunde Sasegbon.