FG to Spend N270bn on Bridge Repairs in Three Years

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Bennett Oghifo

The federal government has planned to spend N270 billion in three years to manage the nation’s bridges.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, stated this tuesday while inspecting rehabilitation work of expansion joints on a section of the Third Mainland Bridge.

“We now have a three-year plan affecting over 50 bridges across the country for maintenance, repair and restoration and it is going to cost about N270 billion,” he stated.

The minister said the plan depend’s on what the ministry would be able to get when the 2017 budget is passed.
“Our plan is to start with about N70 billion to N100 billion a year, starting with the very critical ones so that they don’t collapse and then we move to the less critical ones and then to the not too endangered ones,” Fashola added.

He said it was important to plan this work as the government had done, “addressing problems in a more structured way; planning is half of success. We have surveyed all the bridges and we know what is needed and we just need appropriation approval. These kinds of assets are difficult to rebuild and our preoccupation now is to keep them in full and useful, repair, and maintenance for them to really achieve their useful life.”

The section inspected yesterday, according to the minister, is an alignment of the Lagos outer ring road, which is the beginning of “what we turned to the Third Mainland Bridge.”

The rehabilitation work was awarded some years back by the federal government, when there was indication of weak alignment on the Lagos Outer Ring Road, the minister said.

He explained that the “Lagos Outer Ring Road is the beginning of what we turned to the Third Mainland Bridge. It ends just about here (Adeniji axis) from the outer Marina.”

When the rehabilitation work was awarded some years back, it led to the partial closure of the Third Mainland Bridge and strict control of vehicular movement.

Fashola said the rehabilitation work being done by the contractor, Borini Prono Construction Company, was caused by ecological problems, erosion and sand mining among others.

“So, sections of this road have moved as a result of sub-soil displacement and some work was awarded to correct it, but the contractor was telling me that it hasn’t been completed because they were not paid. So, they just got money when this administration resumed work,” he said.

The contractor, he said has been remobilised to site and that they plan to finish the job by November, this year, adding that “that is only part of the story; the other side of it is that most of the bridges built in the country in the last four to five decades have not been under any form of maintenance, structured or unstructured. What has been happening is that we wait until it gets bad, gets worse, and fails then we come and repair it.

“We intend to change that; you’ve seen what we have done with the Jaji Bridge; the Tambuwal Bridge in Kano, which the federal executive council just approved for repair; all emergency repair work also in Ijora, Lagos. We intend to change that if we get the cooperation from the National Assembly this year.”

On the bridge repair in Lagos, the Joint Managing Director of Borini Prono, Mr. Gianeronco Albertazzi, said there was misalignment of the section of the Third Mainland Bridge that was caused by the activities of people under the bridge.

“The column has been strengthened by another layer of steel and concrete,” stating that it was impossible to predict whether the movement had stopped or not, but that it was imperative to take care of the problem.