Federal Government and Lagos State Government has promised joint action to evict traders and illegal occupants under Lagos bridges.
They hinged the action on the need to save lives and protect the infrastructure
, while declaring zero tolerance to abuse of bridges.
Mr Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Works and Housing, and officials of Lagos State Government briefed journalists on their position after inspecting Apongbon and Eko bridges in Lagos.
The Lagos State officials were led by the Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat and the Special Adviser to Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Works and Infrastructure, Mrs Aramide Adeyoye.
According to Fashola, efforts to quickly complete initial emergency rehabilitation on Eko Bridge were slowed down when Apongbon Bridge was affected by fire in March.
He added that the construction materials imported for completion of Eko Bridge were deployed to begin urgent repairs on Apongbon.
Furthermore, the minister said that efforts to complete Apongbon before Christmas had also been frustrated by another fire that affected the Ijora Olopa section of Eko Bridge on Nov. 4.
He said the government would not be able to actualise its plan of completing Apongbon Bridge because its materials had been deployed to the burnt section of Eko Bridge.
There will not be Apongbon for Christmas, as much as we tried, Fashola said.
Fashola and the contractor gave technical details of how casings and other components were being used for rehabilitation on both bridges.
He lamented on the hardship faced by road users.
That is what happens every time you burn the bridge. It is collective pain, I use the bridge too, he said.
The minister said that the fire incidents were due to illegal activities of a few residents, which could lead to collapse of the bridge, posing threat to lives.
Also, he added that the decision to shut the Ijora Olopa section of Eko Bridge pending integrity tests was a painful one.
However, Fashola said it was to avert a gory situation where a bridge weakened by fire would collapse and lead to loss of lives.
He said the delivery date of Apongbon bridge, which was earlier fixed for December 2022, had been extended to May 2023 because of the emergency repair of Ijora Olopa section.
Dr Obafemi Hamzat, Lagos State Deputy Governor, said quick action would be taken against illegal occupants under the Eko bridge.
He said this was due to the hardship their activities had inflicted on commuters as a result of closure of the bridge.
Dr Frederick Oladehinde, the Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, said the state and federal traffic regulatory agencies would collaborate towards managing traffic and diversion points.
Also, he explained the traffic management architecture and how motorists could navigate due to maintenance work on both bridges.
The Special Adviser to Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Works and Infrastructure, Mrs Aramide Adeyoye, said that repairs had been carried out on Herbert Macaulay Way, one of the routes for traffic diversion, to ease gridlock.
The Director of Construction, Buildwell Plants and Equipment Industries Ltd, the project contractors, Mr George Mohanna, explained the Ijora Olopa and Apongbon reinforcements and repairs.
According to Mr Oluropo Oyetade, the Director, Highways, Bridges and Design, said Eko Bridge, built in 1969, first underwent maintenance in 1975 when it was upgraded.
He added that it did not undergo any other maintenance until 2021.
He said, this was followed by that of 2022 where over one hundred damaged bearings and expansion joints were being changed.
Oyetade also noted that recalcitrant occupants and traders did not keep the promise they made to the minister when they pleaded to be given one month extension after expiration of the ultimatum given them to leave.
The director, during inspection of Ijora Olopa Section of Eko Bridge, said integrity tests on the infrastructure would begin on Friday, Nov. 11.