Metro

March 19, 2012

Ohan bridge of death comes alive!

Ohan bridge of death comes alive!

…The Ohan bridge after it was successfully rehabilitated by Nigerian Army engineers

By DEMOLA AKINYEMI, Ilorin

OHAN bridge near Alapa, in Moro Local Government Area of Kwara State is about 1000metres in length or so.The bridge links Kwara with Oyo and is considered strategic to the prosperity of the two states.

Before now, driving through the bridge was like passing through the valley of death. That was my experience during the campaign tour of one of the gubernatorial aspirants early last year as I almost passed out in fear during the about ten minutes drive.

Planks were haphazardly arranged on the bridge to prevent vehicles from crashing into the deep gully below. And because of the precarious nature of the bridge, there is usually a long queue of vehicles on both sides which must of necessity take turns to pass.

In most cases the occupants are compelled to disembark to save themselves the trauma of having to endure the dangerous ‘dance’ of the vehicles as the drivers struggle to navigate through the then rickety bridge. The vehicles must necessarily pass here because other known alternatives are considered burdensome.

Inspite of its enormous importance not only to Kwara and Oyo states,but to the nation at large and despite various media reports on the ever-present danger at the bridge, the Federal Government or better put, the Federal Ministry of Works, has over the years shirked its duty to fix the bridge.

...The Ohan bridge after it was successfully rehabilitated by Nigerian Army engineers

Partial succour was occasionally provided by officers of the Nigerian Army whose barracks is located nearby. But thankfully the days of plying the bridge with fear are over as it has been fully rehabilitated by  the Nigerian Army Engineers and  opened to vehicles for use.

The Ohan bridge which served as a major link between Kwara, Oyo, Cotonou and various farmlands for the transportation of various food stuff had been closed since 2009 following a major accident there that claimed several lives while scores of cows we’re given mass burrial at the site.

The GOC Second Mechanised division,Ibadan,Major General Mohammed Abubakar at the opening ceremony said the rehabilitation/  reconstruction of the bridge was in line with one of the social responsibilities of the Nigerian Army to the civil populace as encouraged by Chief of Army Staff.

He noted that the Nigerian Army is ever-ready to assist any community which seeks its assistance in the area of community development. He recalled that in July 2011, the Kwara State government mooted the idea of repairing the bridge and provided the fund.

According to him: ”The state government then approached the Nigerian Army through 22 Brigade for the reconstruction work.The Brigade in turn contacted Headquarters 2 Division who directed 42 Division engineers to carry out the task.Work on the bridge started in November 2011 with a timeline of 11 weeks for completion which we are witnessing the handover today”.

Abubakar also commended Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed for his belief  in the capability of the Nigerian Army in carrying out what he described as a gigantic construction project.

This development,he noted, has further cemented the cordial relationship between the Kwara State government and the Nigerian Army, stressing that the state should not hesitate to call for such assistance in the nearest future.

Ace Ebenebe, an engineer, who supervised the project recounted the challenges the soldiers team had to overcome before successfully executing the project within three months.

He went down memory lane to recall the accident that necessitated the closure of the bridge and why it has to be rehabilitated. According to him:”The collapse of the bridge adversely affected the villages and major towns on both sides of Kwara and Oyo states as social and economic interaction became difficult and very expensive”.

He added that ”motorists were forced to go through Ogbomosho to their desired destinations.The hardship was so much that members of various road unions had to employ temporary relief measures to make the bridge accessible to small vehicles only. Bigger vehicles such as trucks and trailers sought alternative areas from which to cross leading to the washing away of the river banks during the last raining season”.

Ebenebe explained that the reconstructed bridge was dredged,delaunched;that is, it was buckled with strong iron and reconfigured to a new design of a 14-day double truss single storey bridge reinforced by two intermediate pierce.

Commissioner for Works and Transport, Dr Amuda Kannike, who represented Governor Ahmed at the ceremony, said the repairs cost the state government over N42 million.

Kannike who recalled that the Nigerian Army approached  the state government with the financial proposal,  said the state is ready to partner with the Nigeria Army towards developing the state.

The repair, though temporary, is expected to  conveniently serve all vehicles and to  last at least than another 20 years, according to Vanguard Metro findings. The people are, however, calling on the Federal Government to intervene now by constructing a befitting bridge that will last a lifetime.