By olasunkomi akoni & monsur olowwopejo
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos state has approved about N 2.8 billion for the construction of the Ejigbo- Ajao Estate Link Bridge in remembrance of the over one thousand victims who lost their lives during the January 27, 2002 bomb blast.
This was disclosed on Thursday at a briefing to commemorate the ninth remembrance anniversary of the bomb blast. Chairman of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, who announced this, said “The Lagos state ministry of Works would spearhead the construction of the bridge and has also approved the review of the final design of the bridge.”
According to Bamigbetan, “the bridge would run from the canal where the victims lost their lives over to Ajao Esttae that is the concept of the bridge. When completed, you would be able to move from Ejigbo through Ajao to link the airport road to Oshodi.
“The idea is that if there had been a bridge those who died would not have gone into the water. They would have taken the bridge. So it is like a realisation of a dream of over nine years.”
The council chairman stressed that the council had pursued the project since 2010, stressing that the Ministry of Works expanded the concept of the bridge to include median, walk ways and more street lights and added that the contract would be awarded soon to enable work commence on the bridge.
“Once we get the funds, and the board of the Public Private Partnership, PPP, give us the go ahead, in the next two months the construction of the bridge would take off,” he said.
On the welfare of the families of the victims, Bamigbetan said the council’s intention to turn the graveyard to a tourist centre met stiff opposition by relatives of the victims even after series of meetings held with them.
to see reasons.
The council chairman said “Their opposition to the idea has really slowed us down and this even informed the reason for not making an elaborate ceremony out of it today, being the ninth remembrance anniversary of the incident”.
Bamigbetan added that the council would forward to the state government, the names of twelve divers who rescued some persons alive and recovered the corpses, saying they would undergo training as divers’ instructors which according to him could be vital for future occurrences.
Speaking to Vanguard, one of the representatives of the families, Mr. Ola Majekodunmi lamented that nine years after the incident, the Lagos State government was yet to fulfil the promise it made to the families to ensure that they are not neglected or left to suffer the painful memories of the incident.
Majekodunmi said the financial package contributed by non_governmental organisations after the blast was not used for the purpose to which they were donated.
His words “ I have the pictures during the presentation of the aids by NGOs, I still have them, so where is the money and then they say they spent billion here, are they not using our families to trade, that was why we also stopped the tourism plan because it’s a ploy to make money out of us”.
He lashed out at the excuse given by the General Manager of Lagos State Emergency Management Authority(LASEMA), Oke Osanyintolu that the monies donated were used to embalm and beautify the grave side as well as purchase coffins.
Majekodunmi however commended the state government for succumbing to the request of the victims’ families to stop the yearly wreath laying ceremony at the canal site, saying that it brings back painful memories to the people bereaved by the incident.