By Olasunkanmi Akoni
The Lagos State Government has attributed lack of fund as the main factor delaying repairs and reopening of the burnt Airport Road Flyover, along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Lagos.
Recall that the bridge which runs over Toyota Bus Stop on the Apapa-Oshodi-Ojota-Oworonshoki Expressway being reconstructed was gutted by fire when a petrol tanker burst into flames on Thursday, January 7, 2021.
In a swift reaction, in order to avert possible collapse and loss of lives, the Lagos State Government, through the state Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Works, shut the flyover pending determination of integrity test on the safety condition of the bridge.
Also, the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos State, Mr Olukayode Popoola, on the second day of the incident, urged the public to stay off Airport Road flyover pending the determination of its structural safety.
The Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor, on Works and Infrastructure, Mrs Aramide Adeyoye, disclosed the lack of fund as the factor delaying the repairs of the flyover while briefing the media on the activities of the ministry on Thursday, as part of events commemorating the second anniversary of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu led administration in the state.
Responding to why the flyover remained shut she explained that, “We have inspected the flyover, along with Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde, and the Federal Controller of Works because the affected structure belongs to the Federal Government. Tests were carried out and result obtained.
“The impact of the three hours inferno was massive on the structure and you ask yourself, in that circumstance you can not explain it.
The tragedy was not prepared for, there was no budget for it. So, it is hard to fund such an unforeseen occurrence.
“However, the inconvenience to the motoring public is being addressed. We are not unaware of the pains the public is experiencing over the continued closure.
“I assure you that the fund is being sourced for presently and as soon as it’s ready we move to site and complete on time. We implore the motoring public to be patient onnus and continue to use alternative routes for now and comply with traffic officers on road directional signs among others.”
The special adviser stressed the need to embark on strict enforcement of road worthiness regulation of trucks in Lagos.
Adeyoye, lamented that truck accident causing damage to road infrastructure had become recurrent.
She noted that truck accidents were most times caused by reckless driving and called for attitudinal change.
Adeyoye said that the support of the Federal Government was important in tackling the ‘hydra-headed monster.’
However, during the initial inspection of the government’s team, Popoola raised concerns over the safety of the bridge as its structural integrity was yet to be ascertained.
He said that 200 meters of the rigid pavement of the Apapa-Oshodi-Ojota-Oworonshoki Expressway reconstruction project, being carried by the Dangote Group, was also burnt.
He added that the deck of the flyover was burnt and its pier badly damaged, raising fears of the structural instability of the bridge.
Popoola warned that there would be risks in using the bridge.
“We are taking some samples to go and analyse before we know the structural stability, but physically, a lot of damage has been done to this pier of the bridge. The integrity is already compromised.
“Yesterday the road was barricaded but in the night, some people went and removed the barricade.
“We are advising that members of the public should not take the risk of using this bridge.”
Popoola said that about 200 meters of the flyover deck, as well as the pavement of Apapa-Oshodi-Ojota-Oworonshoki Expressway being reconstructed, were adversely affected by the inferno.
He added that one of the piers – pillars of the bridge – was badly burnt, making the ministry unsure of the structural integrity and safety of the bridge.
He said that outcome of tests would ensure appropriate action on the flyover constructed by Julius Berger Plc, as well as the highway under reconstruction by the Dangote Group.
According to the controller, the Federal Highway Act empowers the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to prosecute whoever caused damage to assets of the Federal Government.
“This Apapa-Oshodi-Ojota-Oworonshoki Expressway project is ongoing, and we have not even completed it. Now, due to the carelessness of drivers, this fire occurred, and you can see the level of the damage.
“The pavement that we have spent a lot of money, up to 200 meters have been affected; that will cost a lot of money,” he said.
Popoola noted that the ministry had been working in collaboration with Lagos State Government to tackle trucks’ menace and other infractions affecting road infrastructure.
Also, Mr Cyril Zango, Deputy Corps Commander (Operations), Lagos Sector Command of the Federal Roads Safety Corps, said the offending truck had been impounded.
He said that investigations were on as regards the accident, adding that, if found guilty, the owner and the driver of the tanker would be prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to other road users.
Zango said that articulated vehicle drivers engaged in sharp practices to evade safety and security checks.