By KOLADE OLAREWAJU & OLA AJAYI
THOUSANDS of commuters and motorists on the failed Sagamu-Benin road were stranded for hours yesterday after one of the bridges on the nationâ€™s most strategic link between the south-west, south-south and south-east was submerged by flood.
The affected bridge is at J4 area, between Ijebu-Ode and Ogbere in Ogun State just before the boundary with Ondo State.Â Many had to call off their journeys.
It had rained in the area as in other parts of the south-west and south-south for the third day running. Vehicles were held up on both sides of the road with officials of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) controlling traffic.
Sector commander of the FRSC, Mr. Mike Olagunju confirmed to Sunday Vanguard the water logging of the bridge but said no vehicle was hanging on the bridge, contrary to distress calls by stranded commuters.
Such calls had triggered panic across the country with people making phone calls and sending text messages to ascertain the truth. Olagunju said: â€œThere is very little our men can do for now, until the water goes down.
Thank God the rain has stopped and hopefully the water will begin to go down. But until then, there is very little one can do because you cannot even get there.â€ Olagunju said that his men at the J4 end also confirmed that the situation was the same on that side adding â€œwe are just waiting for the water to go down.â€
The Commandant of the Road Traffic Compliance Agency (TRACE), Mr. Ayo Sangofadeji who spoke through the Director of Information, Mr. Wole Shokunbi said his men were already on both ends of the bridge to ensure that no vehicle plunged into the river.
He also said that there has been no report of any bus or vehicle hanging on the bridge not reports of any vehicle plunging into the river. A commercial driver said: â€œI cannot even venture going on that road towards where you want to go. The water can submerge anyone, anytime. That place is very dangerousâ€
For years, the road has been begging for rehabilitation with government paying little attention. The sand/stone filling, usually done by government hardly last before they are washed away.
President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua says he plans to concession the road to a private company as it has done in the case of the Lagos – Ibadan expressway which was also in chaos yesterday. Prominent Nigerians including Supreme Court justices and former Justice of the International Court, Prince Bola Ajibola were trapped on the road.
The Supreme Court Justices, Justices Mariam Aloma Muhktar, Mahmud Mohammed, Dahiru Mustapha, Ibrahim. T. Mohammed, George Oguntade and Prince Ajibola were on their way to Ibadan to attend the public presentation of a book in honour of a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Bola Babalakin at the University of Ibadan.
Justice Babalakinâ€™s son, Wale, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and chairman of Bi-Courtney which won the concession in respect of the road was similarly trapped.
He said: â€œthe difficulties they are facing daily on the road will soon be a thing of the past. We are only waiting for the Federal Government so that we can go ahead with the project immediately.
We will put an end to the pains that the people are facing on that road. The president hinted recently that the project will soon start but the earlier this is done, the better for every Nigerian using the road.â€