that the partial closure of the Third Mainland Bridge for six months will no doubt not only increase the number of man-hour lost daily in Lagos traffic, but certainly send many road users, who are already groaning over the hurdles of commuting, into depression
That motorists and commuters in Lagos are in for a harrowing experience with the announcement last week by the federal government that it would shut down the Third Mainland Bridge for maintenance work from July 24, 2020 is no longer news. The Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Mr. Olukayode Popoola, who made the announcement, said the closure which would last for six months, is to enable the government carry out routine maintenance works on the bridge.
"We are still working out the modalities and when we perfect the traffic management plan we will move to site. Everything being expected for the repairs of the bridge arrived the country that is why we want to start the repairs now," he said.
The importance of the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos cannot be over-emphasised. It is not just the longest of three bridges connecting Lagos Island to the mainland, everyday millions of people are ferried through the bridge to ease movement in the city. So the chaos shutting it down for a whopping six months would cause can only be imagined.
The bridge starts from Oworonshoki which is linked to the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and ends at the Adeniji Adele Interchange on Lagos Island.
The 11-kilometre bridge which has gone through series of rehabilitation works was last closed for repairs in August 2018 for three days of investigative maintenance check.
At a joint media briefing with officials of the Lagos State government on how to manage traffic during the period of the shut down of the all important bridge, Popoola revealed that the repairs would be done in two phases, saying that the first phase of the diversion would be on the Oworonshoki-bound lane of the bridge of which repairs would last for three months. He noted that within that period, motorists will use the Lagos Island-bound lane and the alternative routes provided.
According to the federal controller, the first phase will be for morning traffic from 12a.m. to 1p.m. from Oworonshoki to Lagos Island on the Lagos Island-bound lane. He added that the afternoon traffic from 1p.m. to midnight would take the Lagos Island to Oworonshoki traffic on the Lagos Island-bound carriageway.
Popoola said the phase two of the diversion for the repairs of the Lagos Island-bound lane of the Third Mainland Bridge would be for morning traffic from 12a.m. to 1p.m. from Oworonsoki to Lagos Island on the Oworonsoki-bound lane. Afternoon traffic from 1p.m. to 12a.m. would be from Lagos Island to Oworonsoki on the Oworonsoki-bound lane.
He said the government was aware of the inconveniences the maintenance of the bridge may cause motorists, but added that the appropriate agencies for traffic control will be in place to direct traffic movement in the affected areas.
"This will be in place for three months for repairs of the Oworonshoki bound lane. Motorists are advised to also ply these alternative routes: first, from Carter Bridge through Iddo through Oyingbo to join Adekunle ramp inward Oworonsoki. Secondly, from Ijora Olopa through Western Avenue to Ikorodu Road. Traffic controllers will be in place to direct and help traffic movement. We regret the inconveniences this might cause the motorists," he said.
On his part, Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Fredrick Oladeinde, said priority would be given to those driving from Mainland to the Island in the morning and afternoon to use the Third Mainland Bridge while those driving against traffic will use the alternative routes. He assured motorists that the state Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) would work with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in all the alternative routes to ensure a smooth journey during the partial closure.
To reduce the number of vehicles on the road during the partial closure of the bridge, he advised that motorists who do not have a genuine reason to be on the road should stay at home. He also said the Vehicle Inspection Service had started checking trucks for roadworthiness and those not fit will be confiscated.
"If you don't have to travel, I will advise that you stay at home so that we can minimise the number of vehicles on the road. If you can work at home, please do; but if you can't, we will ensure we will be on the road for you to get to your destination as quickly as possible," Oladeinde said.
The commissioner also advised residents to use alternative transport such as ferries, saying the Lagos Ferry Services will increase the number of fleets in the morning for people from Ikorodu and Mile 2.
The Special Adviser to the state governor on Works and Infrastructure, Aramide Adeyoye, promised that the state would rehabilitate access routes for use. She listed roads to receive urgent attention to include Herbert Macaulay Way and Iddo/Oyingbo roads, saying the state government has commenced necessary preparatory work on all the alternative routes to make them motorable for commuters.
From the tone of the media briefing, it was clear that the already bad traffic situation in Nigeria's commercial city, may get worse in the days and months ahead.
Last March, same federal government shut down the Alaka Bridge linking Eko Bridge in Lagos for repairs. And till date, not a single work has started on the bridge, thereby giving motorists serious nightmare linking the Island and Apapa. Sometimes the traffic on this part of the road starts from Fadeyi.
Rather than quickly fix the bad portion to ease traffic and give road users some relief, it was abandoned for Marine Beach, thereby worsening the traffic situation in the city.
This is why many feel that adding the Third Mainland Bridge to what they are presently going through at this time will send many more Lagosians into depression.
As much as shutting down the Third Mainland Bridge is seriously palpitating many Lagosians, so are the major roads in the city which have all broken down and causing a nightmare to drive through.
Presently Eric Moore, Ijora-Apapa, Mile 2 to Ojo in the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Mile 2-Tin Can-Liverpool, Agege Motor Road around Mushin, Herbert Macaulay Way in Yaba are all in a sorry state.
The intensity of the rains in the last two weeks has made movement harrowing for many road users. As motorists and other road users are groaning, there seems to be no end to the ordeal.
Presently, it is hard to quantify the man-hour lost daily in traffic and health hazard it poses to people.
Added to the problem, the inner-city roads are in deplorable state, leaving most residents to agonise daily. Many cannot understand why the Lagos State government has not been able to pay proper attention to the inner-city roads despite the creation of the Lagos State Public Works Department, which is saddled with the task of rehabilitation of local roads.
While many Lagosians know that the gridlock in the city is compounded by the influx of tankers and containerised trucks that have also become a menace on the roads, they are wondering why the state government has not come up with a concrete policy to tame the menace of truck and tanker drivers in the city, knowing that heavy vehicular pressures on the few available roads cause them to fail rapidly.
On a typical day, traffic could stretch from Fadeyi or Onipanu on the Ikorodu Road to Costain, Mile-2 end of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway to Cele Bus Stop, down to Anthony Bus Stop on Ikorodu road. This in turn compounds the constant logjam on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Funso Williams Avenue and even the Third Mainland, Eko and Cater bridges.
Most times, heavy-duty vehicles get stuck in the flooded bad portions of the roads. Traffic thieves and miscreants most often cash in on the confusion to extort money from motorists, while others make brisk business by helping victims remove stuck vehicles off the danger zone.
"For me, I was happy to hear that the state government will soon pay urgent attention to Herbert Macaulay Way and Iddo/Oyingbo roads. It means that they know that the roads were bad this while but kept quiet. Let them fix it and many others. The other day, I went through Ojuelegba-Itire road and what I saw made me to put a question mark on the Governor Sanwo-Olu government. It was bad," said a banker who did not want her name in print.
There are also many Lagos residents who feel that LASTMA officials whose duty it is to control traffic in the city are not doing enough. They feel that a majority of them have since abandoned their core duty and chasing motorists for the mundane such as seat belt in order to extort them.
"There are some areas that are known for chronic traffic congestion, yet you see the LASTMA officials deployed there chatting and playing away unconcerned. There should a way of the monitoring their activities. What are they paid for at the end of the month?," asked a shop owner at Okota, Funke Badore.
Worse still is the fact that the federal government has told the people of the state how long truck and tanker drivers will continue to park on the bridges for weeks and month before they gain access to the ports to evacuate imports, thereby weakening the bridges.
"Sometime I just wonder what kind of country we live in. For over seven years now, heavy duty trucks and tankers have been parking on both Eko Bridge and Ijora-Apapa Bridge with no explanation from any body on how long this will be. It is sad that authorities are not seeing the damage done to these bridges with these trucks and tankers parking there always. If the bridges were meant to last for 100 years, is it with the day and night parking presently going on right now? Why are we jokers in this country? It was this same parking that broke a joint on the Eko Bridge that led to the shutting down of the Alaka bridge in March. Do we have to wait for the entire bridge to come down before we act? Do we know what it would take to construct the bridges of they come down? Very sad for us," a lawyer, Imonitie Iriah concluded.