July 20, 2019

Save us from impending danger, Mende residents beg Sanwo-Olu

Save us from impending danger, Mende residents beg Sanwo-Olu

…Where Onyinlola, Tinubu, Fashola, Ambode failed

…Say Successive govts have abandoned us
…We built, maintain only link bridge

By Ishola Balogun

RESIDENTS of Greenland Estate in Mende, Kosofe Local Council Area of Lagos State have sent a distressed call to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the state, over abandonment of the Arowojobe link bridge in the area.

The residents said that the pain they go through going in and out of their estate through the temporary link bridge is becoming unbearable, adding that the make-shift bridge constructed and maintained by the residents three years ago, might collapse any moment from now.

They urged the state government to urgently intervene and re-award the Arowojobe link bridge in the area, a project which according to them has suffered untold neglect and abandonment by successive state governments.

Saturday Vanguard observed that one vehicle had to wait for another to go through before gaining access as the 50 meter make-shift bridge put together by the residents can only take one car at a time, not more than a 3-ton weight.

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Again, business activities involving movement of materials with heavy duty vehicle in and out of the estate have been adversely affected. Yet, residents had to pay regularly for the maintenance of the temporary bridge to connect to the outside world.

It was gathered that when the former bridge, which was as old as the estate, began to fail, the State government pulled it down and ordered a reconstruction in 2016, but up till this moment nothing was done, despite regular engagement with successive governments with a view to providing solution.

We are undergoing undue pain, Residents speak

The chairman of the estate, Charles Obioha stated that the degradation caused by the abandonment poses environmental threat to residents as water from the canal no longer flows freely, putting them at the mercy of flood.

“As a temporary bridge, it was designed to carry vehicle not more than three tons, what that means is that all the businesses in the estate have been paralysed for the past three years because you cannot bring in equipment with heavy duty vehicle on this bridge. Construction is adversely affected because nobody can bring in materials to this estate. People that took bank loan to build houses are almost bankrupt because they cannot bring in building materials,” he stated.

Dr Lai Banwo, a Trustee of the leadership of the Estate said the bridge which is less than 100 meters, started failing as far back as the Olagunsoye Oyinlola regime in the state. We got the then Military Administrator, Olagunsoye Oyinlola to visit the place, and he promised to do something about it. Unfortunately, he did not do anything before he left. When Tinubu became the governor, we mounted pressure and he sent his deputy, Femi Pedro to inspect the bridge but nothing was done.

“During Fashola regime also, we tried but nothing much was done too. Unfortunately, we were relating with the civil servants in the Ministry of Works and Environment in the state then. They kept promising that something would be done. Suddenly, they awarded the contract to a lady who knew little or nothing about construction. She just dropped some pipes, did nothing and made away with the mobilisation fund given to her. She was going around harassing everybody claiming to be a Fashola relative. It was when we were following up that we realised she was not what she claimed to be. We heard that she made away with over N80 million given to her as mobilisation.

“We started all over again, when Ambode became governor. We mounted pressure, and the job was awarded and work started in April 2016. Again, the contractor complained he was not paid and that he was encountering some structural problems. As far as we were concerned, the contractor did not do a good soil test before taking the job. They brought another consultant with a view to solving the problem. They said the bridge would be ready in six months. Unfortunately, there was no headway and it was abandoned. The temporary bridge you see was constructed by the residents. We raised money to do a temporary bridge to link other roads.

The make shift bridge we constructed has been overstretched and we spend so much money maintaining it. The contractor had been coming without doing anything. This continued until Ambode lost his nomination for a second term, and now he has disappeared. We have written so many times to the ministry and yet nothing was done.”

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Another resident, Steve Okafor said regular maintenance of the bridge has cost the residents a lot of money. “The bridge is built over a canal; you can imagine what we do all the time to fill the access and the exit point. The money residents pay for the maintenance is huge, that’s painful.

“We, as the residents, beg the Sanwo-Olu government to go back to the records, review the contract and continue from where it stopped. I think the main problem was funding for the contractor. As for the project, it has been properly defined; it is funding that is stifling the project,” Okafor said.

Uyi Omoigu, secretary of the estate association said, “We go through a lot of pain going in and out of the estate every day especially in the mornings or evenings when residents go and return from work. Only one car can pass at a time, and as a result, you will see long queues of cars”.

The resident have appealed to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to urgently intervene and alleviate the sufferings of the residents by ordering immediate reconstruction of the bridge, adding that should the make-shift bridge collapses, residents will be cut off from other Lagosians.