By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Residents in Lagos, especially those residing around Okota and Itire areas of the state would soon heave a sigh of reliefÂ from the traffic congestion that afflicts that axis, leading to loss of precious man hours daily.
This follows the final completion of the much-awaited Okota-Itire overhead link bridge which is now ready for commissioning. Governor Babatunde Fashola is expected to lead other officials and dignitaries to officially declare the link bridge open, probably next week.
The project was earlier projected to be opened last December before the state government shifted it to the first quarter of this year. It was a development someÂ motorists found disappointing even as they presently betray an eagerness to use the bridge.
The bridge, located at the busy Cele Bus-stop along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, was constructed by China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) Nigeria Limited which also added some new access roads to the road network that will complement the bridge.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Ganiyu Johnson during the launching of the beams on the bridge last year, stated that the project will open up this axis to increased economic activities and further raise the standard of living of the people within the benefiting communities
Mr. Bedford Ebiazede of the Lagos Office of Federal Ministry of Works during an inspection of work on the bridge expressed satisfaction with the quality of materials and work done. â€œThey have good structural work. ..The reinforcement placement, concrete strength have been in orderâ€.
The project was executed in two phases: The first phase included expansion of Ijesha Road from Itire-Lawanson junction to Market Street junction into four lanes, construction of Ogunlana Street-Ogunlana extension into two lanes and construction of Asoge Market Street into two lanes.
While phase two of the project involved the construction of 447 metre length of bridge into four lanes dual carriage-way with walkways, median barrier and other engineering appurtenances, traffic light and street lighting with a total width of 20.40m.
The first phase was awarded in September 6, 2007 while work started on November 22, 2007. The second phase on the other hand was awarded on February 4, 2008 while the work commenced on April 14, 2008. It links the Western part of the state with the Eastern part of Itire, Ijesha, Mushin, Aguda, Lawanson and Yaba which over the years have been a traffic nightmare for the people of these areas as their onlyÂ access was through the Isolo bridge.
The traffic snarls on the roads around the area are usually unbearable. The affected roads include Lateef Salami Road, Osolo Way, Aswani Market Road, Iyana-Isolo road, Limca Road, Berliet Road and the Cele/Okota Road. These routes have become nightmares to residents of Okota, Isolo, Ago Palace Way, Ikotun, Ejigbo, Egbe, Festac and its environs.
Those who are coming from the Apapa end to Oshodi are not free from the problem.
.Some of the residents and motorists who spoke to Vanguard Metro lauded the good initiative of the government and urged it to ensure proper monitoring and maintenance of the infrastructure in the interest of the public.
According to one Mr Ajayi: â€œThe implementation of polices by the Lagos State Government is very commendable, but there is need for follow-up strategies because not everyone involved in these schemes are as committed as the Governor.
â€œMost of these traffic jams are man-made, hence there should be respite if traffic agents do not shirk their responsibilities on this route every evening.
â€œThe only people enjoying this situation are the street hawkers and the hoodlums who pounce on motorists in the traffic jams and rob them of their personal effects without any challenge from any quartersâ€.
Another resident, Mrs Abbey, urged government to make sure that the social miscreants, popularly called â€œAgberoâ€ are cleared off the road as they are the major cause of traffic snarl around Cele-Bus stop.
Therefore, as Lagos residents awaits the official opening of this bridge, it is expected that it would bring the necessary succour to all and sundry.