By Mike Ebonugwo, Theodore Opara, Olasunkanmi Akoni & Esther Onyegbula
*LASG deploys 650 LASTMA personnel
*We’re deploying 1,000 men — Police
*FSRC deploys 200 men
LAGOS—THE temporary closure of the Third Mainland Bridge to allow for a three-day investigative maintenance test prior to its repair began last night with strong indications that serious hardship awaits motorists and other road users in Lagos. Reason: Most of the alternative routes announced by the Lagos State Government are currently blocked by trucks.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Ade Akinsanya, had while announcing the closure, advised motorists to use designated alternative routes pending when the bridge would be reopened to traffic.
The designated alternative routes include: Those coming from Lagos-Abeokuta, Agege, Ogba and Ikeja are to make use of Oshodi via Mushin Ojuelegba to connect Carter Bridge into Island; those from Ikorodu, Maryland are to make use of Funsho Williams Avenue, formerly, Western Avenue via Yaba to Oyinbo and connect Eko Bridge into Island. Motorists from Okokomaiko, Festac, Oshodi-Apapa Expressway are enjoined to ply through Ajegunle via Marine Bridge to Ijora to connect Carter Bridge to Apongbon into Lagos Island. Conversely, motorists from the Island are expected to ply Eko Bridge and Carter Bridge into Mainland, while those in Lekki Ajah can also make use of Epe axis through Imota into Ikorodu.
Accessing alternative routes
However, accessibility remains a big factor in routes bordering Okokomaiko, Festac, Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Ajegunle via Marine Bridge to Ijora, and Carter Bridge to Apongbon into Lagos Island as the areas are still choked by hundreds of illegally parked tankers and container-laden trucks.
An on-the-spot count done by Vanguard last month revealed that over 12,000 of these articulated vehicles were parked in different locations in that axis.
A breakdown of this figure then showed that from Iyana Isolo to Tin Can, there were 3,200 trucks parked on the road; Ijora to Palmgrove, 3,485; from Marine Bridge to Ijora, 1850 and down the bridge, 1050; from Stadium to Eko Bridge, 874; from Costain—Stadium-Alaka—Fadeyi, 865; from Berger Suya to Kirikiri Road (New Road Bus stop) 678; from Wilmer Bridge to Awodiora (Ajegunle) 187; and from Coker to Costain Bridge, 63. The entire Berger area had 671 of these articulated vehicles of which 210 were parked on the bridge.
A visit to the affected areas, yesterday, showed that the situation has not changed much, with different articulated vehicles still occupying key access roads and completely impeding the flow of traffic. It is a development many see as likely to render unworkable the alternative routes announced by the Lagos State government for use by motorists pending the reopening of the Third Mainland Bridge.
LASG deploys 650 LASTMA personnel
However, the Lagos State Government has assured residents that all necessary measures had been taken to ensure smooth traffic within the period, saying
that 650 officers of the StateTraffic Management Authority, LASTMA, along with sister agencies would be on ground at strategic points to control traffic and maintain safety of lives and property.
The State’s Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr.Ade Akinsanya, speaking through the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Taiwo Salaam, urged,” motorists and residents to comply with all traffic rules and directional signs to alternative routes during the period the exercise will last.”
He said: “Out of the 3,710 LASTMA capacity in the state, we have decided to deploy 650 personnel covering all the corridors of the Third Mainland Bridge, including all circular roads and bridges, that is Carter and Eko Bridges linking to Third Mainland Bridge.
“The first circular road, Carter Bridge linking Third Mainland Bridge will be closed today (Yesterday) at midnight from all entries and outlets, coming from Idumota to inner and outer Marina, while also the Oworonsoki and Apapa axis to Third Mainland Bridge will be blocked at all access points.
“In order to further reduce pressure and eliminate traffic gridlock, we are talking to market leaders of the need to impress it on their members to stay off during the period as well as those on unessential travel in their own interest.
“However, to stagger the traffic, we implore communters and motorists to make use of public transportation, particularly, Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, in order to reduce the number of vehicles on the road and prevent possible gridlock.”
We’re deploying 200 men – FRSC
Also, the Lagos Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Hyginus Omeje, said many personnel had been drafted to the various alternative routes to ease free flow of traffic. Expressing optimism that the exercise would be a huge success, he urged motorists to show understanding during the period.
Omeje said: “We have enough men on ground to ensure effective management of traffic situation during the period of closure of third Mainland Bridge. FRSC has deployed 200 personnel already on the axis while 800 policemen and 500 Lagos Traffic Management Authority officials are working with us.
“We advise people not to drive against traffic and to avoid unnecessary trips to the Lagos Island, even if they have to, they should do so with BRT buses, and other means of transportation like waterways.
“We have identified critical traffic areas within the axis such as Costain, Apongbo where commercial drivers stop to pick passengers; Our men will ensure that drivers use lay bys in such locations to ensure traffic flow. There are enough personnel to do the job and they have been strategically deployed.”
On the menace of trailers and other articulated vehicles blocking the roads in Lagos, Omeje explained that they have been able to bring some measure of control by ensuring that the trucks maintain a single lane. “The trailers are streamlined. The best we can do for now is to manage the situation the way we are doing. There are no holding bays to take the trucks and we shall continue to manage it until we find a lasting solution,’’ he said.
We’re deploying 1,000 officers – Police
When contacted, Spokesperson of the Lagos State Police Command, Mr. Chike Oti, said: “A total of 1,000 police officers, consisting of traffic officers and regular policemen, will be drafted to the Third Mainland Bridge during the temporary closure to secure the route and also direct traffic to alternative routes.”
Also, the Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Senator Gbenga Ashafa while stressing the need for the exercise, yesterday, urged residents to cooperate with both the Federal and Lagos State governments during the three days closure.
Ashafa traced the history of the repairs of the bridge to 2013 when he moved a motion on the floor of the Senate for the Federal Government to rehabilitate the 28-year-old bridge.
The statement reads in part: “On 7th February 2013, I moved a motion calling on the Federal Government to immediately conduct a comprehensive rehabilitation of the 3rd Mainland Bridge. This was borne out of an independent assessment showed that substantial portions of the bridge had began to fail.
“Following this motion, the Government has committed itself to necessary periodic repairs to ensure that the bridge is safe and strong to carry the weight of thousand of vehicles that ply the road daily.
“Once again, the Government has scheduled a closure of the bridge for a pre-maintenance assessment between the 23rd and 26th of August, 2018.
“I am fully aware of the inconvenience that the closure of this critical infrastructure will cause all of us. However, we must see it as a necessary inconvenience and a little sacrifice we must all pay for the safety of the millions of Nigerians and other lives that ply the 3rd Mainland bridge.”