3rd Mainland Bridge: FG engages consultant to determine required maintenance
By Kingsley Adegboye & Favour Nnabugwu
To safeguard the integrity of the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, the Federal Ministry of Works says it has engaged the services of a consultant – M/s ICECON Nig. Ltd; to urgently carry out investigation on the entire bridge’s substructure so as to determine the extent of maintenance work required.
Works Minister, Mike Onolememen, an Architect, disclosed this in Abuja at a meeting with the Senate Committee on Works presided over by Senator Ayogu Eze. Onolememen insisted that the ever-busy 11.8km bridge is safe. “Although serious steel casing corrosion was noticeable, it was pointed out that the steel casing has no structural function regarding pile bearing capacity, as they simply served as form works to the R.C Piles,” he said.
According to him, the outcome of this investigation will determine the extent of repairs to be carried out on the Third Mainland Bridge. The Ministry, Onolememen said, “has taken the necessary steps in line with its mandate to ensure that the Third Mainland Bridge, a very important infrastructure investment of government, is protected and kept structurally sound”.
He alleged that a former consultant was behind the fabrication of the story that the Third Mainland Bridge is at the verge of collapsing. Onolememen alleged that the consultant went out of its brief when he submitted that an estimated N33 billion would be required to repair the bridge, but the ministry did not approve this. The Minister further claimed that the repair would not cost the Federal government more than N5billion as against the N33billion estimated by the said consultant.
Pile by pile investigation
His words: “Of course, that memo came to me and I refused to approve it; instead I wanted a pile by pile investigation to be carried out so that we know exactly what to do. After all, the most critical sections of the bridge, the first two sections where we need to carry out immediate repair from information available to me by people who did the test, we will not need more than N5 billon to carry out these repairs”.
The Director, Highways Design (Bridges) in the Federal Ministry of Works, Engr. A.O. Effiong, had in a statement titled Facts file on Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, outlined measures taken by the government to protect and keep the ever-busy bridge in an acceptable state.
In the statement, he noted that the the Ministry of Works commissioned Messrs Nigerian Submarine Divers Limited, NSD in December 2010 to undertake the underwater inspection of bridge and Eko bridge in order to ascertain the state of the underwater structural elements which had hitherto not been inspected since the bridges were constructed and opened to traffic some 35 and 25 years ago respectively. According to him, an initial report of the underwater inspection presented by NSD in July 2011 showed “alarming” deterioration and serious damages on numerous pile foundations of the Third Mainland Bridge.
He, however, noted that the findings of Messrs Nigerian Submarine Divers Ltd, NSD were strictly based on visual inspection and under water photos. “For this reason, and following meetings between officials of the ministry, Messrs NSD, Julius Berger and Borini Prono, it was decided that Advanced Integrity Assessment including high technology chemical analysis of concrete samples from piles was inevitable, and in order to authenticate the findings of NSD as contained in their reports. Moreover, since Messrs NSD Ltd is not a Civil Engineering Consultancy Firm, their capacity and professional competence to carry out such works was doubtful.
Therefore, in recognition of the fact that the required Integrity Test has not been exhaustively conducted on the entire bridge, even as various investigations had been concluded, the Ministry felt obliged to request Messrs Borini Prono & Co. (Nigeria) Limited, a member of the PGH Consortium that constructed the first section of the bridge to assess the condition of some foundation piles of the first section of the Third Mainland Bridge which was mostly impacted in the reports by studying the original designs, conducting site investigation in collaboration with Messrs Trevi Foundations Nigeria Limited, the foundation specialist that undertook the piling works in the first place.