The Senate Thursday asked the Federal Ministry of Works to immediately commence what it described as reinforcement, repairs and rehabilitation of the River Niger bridge to avoid the dire consequences of its possible collapse.
The upper chamber which also enjoined the ministry to forthwith commence the construction of Second Niger bridge before the end of the quarter of this year, asked its Committee on Works to collaborate with the ministry with a view to proffering solution to the fears that the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos State is under the threat of collapse.
The senators also advised the Federal Government to carry out inspections on all over-water bridges in Nigeria with the aim of saving them from decay and collapse.
While moving a motion on the floor of the Senate yesterday, Senator Hope Uzodimma (Imo West), said the River NigeBridge which serves as a link between the South-east, South-south, South-west and some northern states is now in a horrifying state of decay with threats of decay and imminent collapse.
He said: "Because of the aforesaid state of the bridge, commuters have since the Christmas season, been subjected to excruciating ordeals wherein only single lanes are allowed to ply the bridge at a time for fear that the normal double lane carriage could lead to an instant collapse of the bridge. Consequently, endless traffic jams now build up at the bridge, keeping travellers on the road for eight or more hours."
Uzodimma also said: "The Poor state of the bridge has been a subject of concern to relevant authorities resulting in the conception of a second Niger Bridge project as a permanent structure to contain the ever heavy traffic across the bridge from all parts of the country."
He added that the second Niger Bridge has been an issue of contemplation for so long without any ray of hope.
The senator expressed fears that the bridge might suddenly collapse without any notice as a result of its weak structure, adding that such development will be "a national catastrophe and tragedy of unimaginable proportions."
Also moving a motion on the Third Mainland Bridge, Senator Olugbenga Ashafa (Lagos East), said he was worried by incessant complaints of "shifting as well as vibration on the bridge by commuters plying the bridge.
Ashafa, who drew the Senate's attention to Ijora-bye pass bridge which he said recently collapsed in the state, also said he was "concerned that a report produced by a company experienced in underwater surveys indicated that underwater metal casing, housing the concrete piles on which the bridge stands have rusted and this accounts for the vibration experienced in some portions of the bridge."
He also told his colleagues that one Professor JHT Kim, who is the Head of the Concrete Structural Engineering Laboratory, Yousei University, Seoul in South Korea, who carried out a research in December 2012 and conducted underwater examination on the bridge, revealed that its state was worse than what had been made known.
The lawmaker added that the report also revealed that there was "progressive steel caisson deterioration in about 1,318 Foundation Piles and that there was extensive reinforcement bar deterioration eight piles," adding that the repair works carried out on the bridge in the last quarter of last year was "a mere window dressing on the expansion joints of which reports have confirmed some parts have since become disjointed."
Ashafa said if the bridge which is plied by 70,000 vehicles daily is allowed to collapse, it will lead to a huge loss of lives and as well worsen traffic situation in Lagos.
Senators who contributed to both motions expressed concern that the state of the country's roads has continued to deteriorate every year without concerted efforts by the government to redeem the situation.