Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI) has raised the alarm that Abuja-Kaduna-Kano bridges were showing severe cracks on most of the substructural and superstructural elements, pointing out that bearings were displaced and beams distressed.
The agency said while incidences of collapse of bridges were very rare in Nigeria, smaller bridges had collapsed in this country, especially in Kontagora and Mokwa areas of Niger State in 2017 and 2018.
The Director-General of NBRRI, Prof. Danladi Matawal, disclosed this in a statement issued on Friday in Abuja titled; ‘Italian Genoa Bridge Collapse: Any Lesson for Nigeria’.
According to him, “In 2016, following some public outcry, NBRRI Bridge Research team visited a certain Tamburawa bridge near Kano; after which a technical report of what was discovered was released and in 2017, the Federal Ministry of Works and Power awarded contract for the remediation of Tamburawa bridge.”
The Director General revealed that it was not only Tamburawa bridge alone that had its piles extensively exposed, representing structural risk of a very high severity rating, but literally all bridges on this route had now been identified to be in the same state as Tamburawa.
He stated: “NBRRI got the impression that other bridges needed to be studied and it is not easy to go beneath a bridge deck, but NBRRI has currently completed field work on all bridges from Abuja – Kaduna – Kano using drone inspections and a report is being processed.”
“Additionally, there is severe cracking on most of the substructural and superstructural elements of these bridges, the bearings displaced or malaligned, beams distressed, etc. The logical thing is for NBRRI to immediately dispatch different teams to all routes in the country.”
Matawal added that while it was logical for NBRRI to immediately dispatchdifferent team to all routes in the country since the programme had already been mapped out, but decried that there were serious funding and personnel shortages.
He added: “Experience gained needs to be taught to other teams to perform, more field Vehicles and Drones are needed and maybe a Central coordinating unit directing studies and analysing measurements taken from the field set up in the headquarters in Abuja.
“NBRRI sent a team to the sites in Mokwa area in 2017 and there is a definite report and opinion but who cares? Afterall it occurred again in 2018 and NBRRI raised a team to visit again, this time with some FERMA engineers, but funding had held the team back and they will ultimately be there anyway.”
The Director General stressed that while huge sums being committed to roads were primarily for resurfacing only, no one was paying attention to maintenance of bridges.
“There is the need to allocate parallel R&D funds to NBRRI as roads and bridges are constructed. Example, when “SUKUK” funds were raised and spread on roads rehabilitation in the country, did we think that the premier cognate Research Institute (NBRRI) in the country would need some small percentage of the US$100billion fund to continue to support with sustainable solutions?