By Emmanuel Addeh
The federal government will from midnight Friday enforce a partial closure of the Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos State, for scheduled rehabilitation work to ensure that the major transportation facility does not collapse completely.
It was learnt that the replacement of damaged bars, hydro-demolition of all non-firm parts and lifting of two of the bridge spans, will take a large portion of the work which is expected to last from July 2020 to January 2021.
Others are anti-rust treatment of exposed bars, replacement of 14 damaged expansion joints and other auxiliary works to make the bridge safer for commuters.
Though works on the important bridge, considered the busiest in the country with a total traffic of 132,702 vehicles per day, is expected to impact movement in and around the city, the federal government noted that road traffic managers will be deployed to minimise chaos.
The Minister of Works and Housing , Mr Babatunde Fashola, while briefing journalists in Abuja on the proposed maintenance of the bridge, said that the rehabilitation work will be carried out on a length of 3.5 kilometres out of the 11.8-kilometre bridge.
According to him, the rehabilitation of the bridge became imperative due to failing and damaged portions, adding that the government cannot afford to rebuild the bridge if allowed to collapse.
Fashola explained that the bridge, which links the Lagos Island with Lagos Mainland, was among the facilities designated for maintenance after a comprehensive assessment of the 37 bridges across the country.
The minister, while acknowledging that the closure of the bridge will bring some hardship on Nigerians, stressed that there was no other way to carry out the maintenance work without closing it partially.
He said: “The construction of the bridge spanned three decades and we cannot afford to rebuild it if we allow it to totally collapse. Infrastructure must be maintained. After the work is done, we will have a better driving experience on the bridge.”
While reiterating that the road will be formally closed to road users by midnight Friday, July 24, the minister also disclosed that a sum of N277 billion will be needed to rehabilitate all the 37 bridges across the country.
In his remarks, the Director, Highway Bridges and Design, Mr Emmanuel Adeoye, said that the maintenance work to be done on the bridge, aside the known ones, would be directed by the engineers involved.
He said that alternative routes have been provided to divert traffic from the bridge during the six-month maintenance period.
The Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Mr Boboye Oyeyemi, who also spoke during the event, said that a total of 250 personnel had been deployed to guide and administer road traffic within the period of the maintenance work to ensure free flow of traffic.
Earlier, the Lagos State Government had announced alternative roads that were fixed to ameliorate the hardship during the period.
Some of the routes include: Iddo inwards Carter Bridge, Market road inwards Herbert Macaulay road and Herbert Macaulay road by Abeokuta street as well as Herbert Macaulay by Cemetery and Apapa road inwards Oyingbo.
The first phase of the Third Mainland Bridge rehabilitation, it said, will focus on Oworonshoki inwards Lagos Island in the morning with traffic diversion from 12 midnight to 1pm and then Lagos Island inwards Oworonshoki where traffic will be diverted in the afternoon from 1pm to 12 midnight.
It advised that motorists, who do not have urgent assignments on the island during the rehabilitation, should avoid the area to discourage the influx of vehicular movements that may lead to more chaos on the roads in the commercial city.