By Ibrahim Oyewale
The Federal Controller of Works, Mr. Kajogbola Jimoh, has assured Nigerians that the Ajaokuta-Itobe bridge is intact and structurally stable, following insinuations that the bridge had broken into two and no longer passable.
Jimoh disclosed this when he paid an on-the-spot assessment visit to the bridge with officials of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) on Friday at Ajaokuta.
He explained that the bridge requires routine maintenance, adding that the only issue was the missing 40mm electrometric rubber base plates covering expansion joints which had chopped off as a result of vehicular movement on the bridge.
He noted that the exposed gaps notwithstanding, the bridge was stable structurally without excessive vibration, stressing that the separation gaps between the joints were designed for thermal expansion.
“So it is as designed. If you measure the expansion where there is existing rubber and the one that has lost the rubber they are still the same which is a proof that the bridge is not moving.
“I am assuring Nigerians that this bridge is stable. Trailers are passing, you have seen it yourself. We are assuring Nigerians that the bridge is stable they don’t need to entertain any fear. You are a witness,” he said.
Jimoh said that the rubber base plates required replacement from time to time because they are rubbers and not steel or concrete, adding that when they experimented with steel plates, the plates were removed before morning.
“If we should buy steel plates and cover these holes, you won’t believe it, before morning the plates will be removed and carried away. We have tried it before. So those are the things that are working against us.
“Itobe bridge is a very special bridge in Nigeria. It links the South-south, South-east and the northern part of the country.
“In the last 30 minutes that we have been on the bridge we have seen the behaviour of the bridge. The bridge is structurally stable; the vibration is not excessive; it is designed to vibrate because it’s only then that it can deliver,” Jimoh stated.
The Federal Controller of Works however hinted that the contract for the maintenance work on the bridge was underway.
“I have discussed with the Director, Bridge Design in the Ministry and he has assured me that by next week, the contractor would move to site. So, by next week they will start working on this bridge,” he said.
An amateur video of the expansion gap on the bridge had gone viral on social media, warning motorists of the dangers inherent in plying the bridge.