…as Lagos closes Onikan bridge April 6
By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowoopejo
The Federal Government has concluded plans to demolish illegal structures constructed under bridges across the country, warning property owners and traders to immediately vacate before the end of September or risk demolition and prosecution .
This came just as Lagos State government disclosed its plan to restrict movement on the Onikan bridge by creating a barrier on the Marina wing of the burnt bridge to protect the weak part of it.
Controller of the Ministry of Works in Lagos State, Mr Ibemena Ejike, said this yesterday at an inter ministerial briefing on the fire incident that razed the Zone II Police Command last Friday.
He said the Federal Government had withdrawn all the trade permits issued to those trading under the bridges in Lagos and other states of the federation, and asked them to vacate the venues immediately or face the weight of the law.
According to him, â€œin the next six months, the Federal Government will demolish all the buildings and structures. The last fire incident in Lagos affected the Onikan Bridge adversely. This is the seventh bridge that fire incident affected in Lagos State alone. The construction of the bridges cost the Federal Government billions of naira. We have more bridges in Lagos than other cities.â€
The controller explained that no building and structure â€œwill be allowed under the countryâ€™s bridges. The letters of authority that permit traders under the bridges are hereby withdrawn. We can no longer tolerate proliferation of buildings and structures under bridges.â€
Lagos shuts Onikan bridge April 6
Also speaking at the briefing, Special Adviser to Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State on Works and Infrastructure, Mr Ganiyu Johnson, said the Marina wing of the Onikan Bridge would be closed from April 6.
Johnson, who was accompanied by his colleagues in the Ministry of Transportation, Comrade Kayode Opeifa, said the initial report of Messrs Julius Berger Plc, after the fire incident, recommended that movement be restricted on the bridges pending when a thorough investigation was carried out.
His words: â€œThe fire incident seriously affected some parts of the Onikan bridge. As a result, we plan to carry out some measures to forestall further damage and loss of lives and property that may result from the impact of the fire incident on the bridge.
â€œOur recommendation, therefore, is to restrict movement on the bridge by creating a barrier on the Marina wing of the Onikan bridge. As soon as Messrs Julius Berger is done with the investigation, we take a step towards a permanent solution. We urge all the motorists to duly obey and observe the restriction,â€ he said.
On traffic diversion, Opeifa said the restriction on the Onikan bridge was expected to cause traffic build-up and gridlock in other parts of Lagos Island, saying men of the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, LASTMA, and other traffic agencies in the state would ensure traffic flow.
â€œThe bridge can still be used. But for precautionary purposes, there is need to restrict movement on the bridge. Only the Marina wing of the bridge will be affected. The heavy trucks like trailers, caterpillars and container trucks, among others, will no longer be allowed to use other parts of the bridge,â€ Opeifa said.