By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowoopejo
Lagos—As part of activities marking the nation’s Democracy Day and the commemoration of his sixth year administration in Lagos, Governor Babatunde Fashola, Wednesday, commissioned the newly completed 1.358 kilometres Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge, Victoria Island, paying glowing tributes to late President Musa Yar’Adua for making the project a reality.
However, the bridge, believed to have cost a whopping N29 billion, will officially not be opened to the public till June 1, 2013.
Speaking at the commissioning witnessed by dignitaries including the former Secretary to the Federal Government, SGF, Mr. Yayale Ahmed, former Governor of Lagos state, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Brigadier-General Mobolaji Johnson (rtd), Oba Rilwanu Akiolu, I, among others, Fashola, described late Yar’Adua as a statesman and not a politician.
Tribute to Yar’ Adua
The governor said the late president, during his short stay in office, never allowed his political affiliation to affect his duties, noting “the late president was the first builder of the bridge. When the design was completed and shown to me, it was obvious that four property would have to give way at the Ikoyi end.”
He quoted the late President to have said: “SGF, there is this bridge in conception by the Lagos State Government. It will affect some property over which we have a dispute with the state government in court, without prejudice to the outcome, please release the two property to them. Our political difference cannot stand in the way of our peoples’ development. That was President Yar’Adua as a statesman not a politician.
“This was the same President who released our seized fund. When I showed him the design in his office in Abuja, he simply picked up his intercom and invited Alhaji Yayale Ahmed to join in the meeting.
“With the new cable bridge that would be opened for vehicular movement on June 1st, it is now easy for us to connect two communities separated by water. This has brought a compelling need for a 4th Mainland Bridge and possibly a 5th and 6th bridge and expanded ferry services are all no longer debatable.”
Assuring residents, he said: “We are still working ceaselessly to start the 4th Mainland Bridge. To make the construction of the 4th Mainland bridge successful, we have made a lot of progress to commence an alternative mode of crossing the Lagoon from Lekki to Ikorodu with the completion of the Ipakodo and Badore ferry terminals, as we race to conclude the Osborne terminal that will complete what I call the Lagos lagoon ferry triangle. All these will bring a lot of relief during the period of constructing the 4th Mainland Bridge as it will provide choice after its completion.”
Fashola explained that the new cable bridge would reduce the travel time of anyone driving through the bridge to link Alexandra Avenue, Victoria Island by 20 minutes daily and 5 days yearly.
Fashola added that “users of the 1.358 kilometres cable bridge will have to pay a toll each way whenever they use the bridge depending on the category of car they drive.”
Categories of tolling
The categories are: Class 1: Saloon cars; N250, Class 11: Mini-vans, SUVs and light pick-up trucks; N300, Class 111: Non-commercial buses with maximum seating capacity of 26 person and Class 1V: Motorcycles with 200CC capacity and above; N100.
However, commercial motorcycle popularly called Okada, Tricycle popularly called Keke, commercial buses popularly called Danfo and high capacity buses with maximum of 26-seater, heavy duty trucks and articulated trucks, are restricted from using the bridge.
Lagos lawmakers oppose tolling
However, at an earlier sitting by the State House of Assembly, there was a stormy session, as members debated the executive bill which requested the endorsement of the House to introduce a toll system on the Bridge
While suspending further debate on the bill till today (Thursday) and Friday, the House noted that the bill came to members very late and given the technicalities contained in the draft, members would need to take their time and seek experts’ opinion on the passage.
Faulting the tolling of the bridge, a Lagos lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, accused Governor Fashola of disregard to the rule of law claiming the issue of tolling of the bridge is still in the court.
In a statement, he said:“On May 22, 2013, I was at the federal high court, Ikoyi, Lagos, with the Attorney-General of Lagos State, Mr. Adetoro Ipaye, to conclude arguments on my court case against tolling on the bridge. Part of the arguments of Lagos State before the court, was that no decision had been taken to toll the bridge. The case was then adjourned to July 9, 2013, for judgment. It is in the interval of that judgment that the Lagos State Government has ambushed the court by commencing tolling on the bridge, to overreach the pending judgment of court.”