CITIZENS COMPASS – The Federal Government on Thursday said it has decided re-open both Eko and Apongbon Bridges to traffic ahead of schedule by midnight of July 9, 2023 to alleviate the suffering of road users.
The Director, Highways, Bridges and Designs in the Federal Ministry of Works, Mr Omotayo Awosanya gave the hint while leading top engineers from the Federal team and Lagos State on an inspection tour of the bridges.
The team earlier had a closed door meeting with Buildwell Plants and Equipment Industries Ltd, contractors on the project at their construction yard in Costain.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Federal Government had earlier set July 15 completion deadline for the bridges.
NAN further reports that the joint team inspected Apongbon Bridge both up and beneath and Ijora-Olopa section of the Eko Bridge.
Awosanya said the new date was to reduce hardships faced by Lagos residents, adding that, when the bridges are re-opened there will be intermittent short closures to continue repairs.
He said an existing contract for rehabilitation of the entire Eko Bridge had reached 50 per cent completion.
The director added that a total of 150 bearings had been replaced with additional 150 to be installed in subsequent rehabilitation works.
He explained that at exactly midnight on Sunday, July 9, the bridges would be re-opened so that commuters would have smooth passage on Monday morning of July 10.
Awosanya said the date review was borne out of the need to relieve stress commuters have undergone for almost a year since fire gutted Apongbon section and later Ijora Olopa portion.
He said full scale rehabilitation would continue on other sections of the Eko Bridge, as the contract is meant to last three years.
“We have come here to urge the contractor to reduce five days out of the 15th of July, we are now going to open the bridge on the 9th at 12.00 midnight.
“And a minute after 12.00 a.m on the 9th, the bridge will be opened for traffic on the 10th.
“This is as a result of close collaboration between the Federal Government and Lagos State Government because we are mindful of the stress the closure of this bridge has caused to Lagosians and we have put pressure on the contractor to open the bridge on Monday for traffic.
“This will reduce the stress presently on other bridges connecting the island and Victoria Island,” he said.
He warned that the Federal government was serious this time and will evacuate all illegal squatters under all Lagos Bridges causing damage to the infrastructure.
He noted that the collaboration of the federal and state governments, would help to achieve the eviction of the squatters under the Apongbon, Ijora bridges, as well as other bridges.
Permanent Secretary Office of Infrastructure in Lagos State, Mr Olufemi Daramola, expressed satisfaction with the level of work, assuring residents of better motoring experience on the axis after re-opening of both bridges.
Daramola said with what is on ground, “9th of July is very realistic”, assuring that arrangements were at high level towards protection of all bridges.
On her part, the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos State, Mrs Olukorede Kesha appreciated the Lagos public for their patience while the repairs of both bridges lasted.
Kesha appealed to residents to be vigilant and report illegalities and vandalism, adding that they should take ownership of all infrastructure to prevent wastage of scarce resources that go into repairs.
NAN reports that the joint team from the federal and Lagos State governments also inspected the Ijora Olopa section of Marine Bridge scheduled for completion in September, 2023.
During the inspection, Kesha assured that demolition had been completed on all the five panels destroyed by vandals, adding that casting of concrete was set to begin.
NAN reports that both Apongbon and Eko Bridges were razed by fire caused by human activities in 2022.
Apongbon Bridge was affected by fire in March, 2022 and efforts for its December completion were stalled by another fire that affected the Ijora Olopa section of Eko Bridge on Nov. 4.
The delivery date for Apongbon Bridge was extended to May 2023 because some materials for its repairs were used to start emergency repairs of the Ijora Olopa section.
The Federal Government later set another deadline for July 15 which has been reviewed downward to July 9.
The 4.1km Eko Bridge links the Lagos Island with the Mainland. It directly links Apongbon on the Island side.
Eko Bridge has been undergoing phased rehabilitation but a contract for its comprehensive maintenance was awarded in February 2022 and expected to extend to 2026.
On the other hand, the Ijora Olopa section of Marine Bridge damaged by vandals was shut on May 17, 2023 for the safety of the public.
The deck on the pile bridge caved in on May 16 leading to immediate assessment and closure.
A deck on a pile is a bridge that does not have piers.