Nigeria is notorious for its horrible maintenance culture. Virtually all amenities built by successive regimes at the federal level - airports, seaports, police and military barracks/bases, roads, railways and what have you - are in deplorable conditions due to our inability to maintain them when due.
The story appears to be slightly different when it comes to the longest bridge in Nigeria - the 12-kilometre, eight-lane Third Mainland Bridge inaugurated by former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida in 1990. After years of neglect when the joints had already started getting separated, it was closed for four months between July and November 2012 by the President Goodluck Jonathan regime for comprehensive repairs.
Six years on, the President Muhammadu Buhari regime is following up with the intended three-day closure of the bridge come July 27, 2018 for a thorough assessment of repair needs. The Federal Government's thoughtful concern for the integrity of this iconic bridge, which is a major tourist attraction in Lagos (the nation's economic capital and financial powerhouse), is commendable and should continue irrespective of regime. The mind boggles at what will become of the metropolis and the nation's economy if something untoward happens to this bridge.
We wish to also alert government to the need to pay similar attention to the various bridges, flyovers and causeways built between the 1960s and the oil boom years of the 1970s. Even though the Federal Government had announced its intention to do just that in September last year, little activity in that direction has been noticed.
Rather, the poor maintenance of these strategic bridges which link the city and the rest of the nation with the ports and the Lagos Island business district, has been compounded by their heavy burdening by the dead-weights of thousands of trailers, trucks and tankers parked on them round the clock.
In spite of frequent accidents and the tortuous experiences of road users as a result of blockages caused by these juggernauts on the Lagos highways and bridges, government has failed woefully over the years to find lasting solutions.
We call for more efforts to be made to care for these bridges. Being much older than the Third Mainland Bridge, the various flyovers need to be constantly checked and repaired to avoid the unimaginable disaster that will befall the Lagos city-state should any of them collapse.
There should be zero-tolerance for the parking of vehicles on these bridges. The Lagos State Government should implement its laws and ensure that heavy trucks are kept in holding bays until called upon to bring in or lift products. These bridges should be protected with barriers if that is the only way to keep trucks away from them.