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Lagos residents lament delayed repair of burnt airport bridge

By Isaac Taiwo
09 June 2021   |   3:15 am
When in early January 2021, a petrol tanker loaded with fuel crashed at Toyota Bus Stop, on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, and burst into flames, damaged the bridge that leads to Murtala Muhammed International Airport

Kamoru Olaore

When in early January 2021, a petrol tanker loaded with fuel crashed at Toyota Bus Stop, on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, and burst into flames, damaged the bridge that leads to Murtala Muhammed International Airport, motorists and other road users never envisaged that it would, for months, disrupt their journeys to and from the airport and other destinations.

The damage was so intense that the Federal Government suspended usage of the bridge, which was in the right direction.

Due to the fact that the road leads to the airport and that the bridge is the only access to the airport for those living at Isolo and environs, Lagosians never gave it a thought that repair would take such a long time.

The assumption was that the plight of the users, especially those travelling by air, would be considered and would therefore influence immediate repairs of the bridge.

Access to the bridge linking International Airport road cordoned off. PHOTO:FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

No sooner was the bridge burnt than the government indicated readiness to commence repairs, but to people’s disappointment, the expectation is shattered as nothing has been done six months after the incident.

The bridge users have been complaining of the inconvenience caused by the shutting down of the bridge without alternatives to the airport.

A trader at Ladipo market, Yusuf Aliu, said: “People are suffering because of the inaccessibility of the only link that leads to the airport (from Apapa-Oshodi axis). Some passengers get confused whenever they get here and have been asking us if there is another road that leads to the airport.

“Many in the process of looking for an alternative road have entered into the hands of hoodlums, who robbed them of their money. This is the time Nigerians should enjoy the government and reap the fruits of their efforts in voting for them.”

Another trader in the market, called Iya Tope, said: “As the government refuses to renovate the bridge, it is dangerous because most drivers are compelled to drive one-way, which can cause accidents.

“Apart from that, LASTMA officials seize the opportunity to extort money from drivers taking the opposite direction.

“Once they see them, they either collect money from those who cooperate or take the recalcitrant ones to their office.

“What we are telling the government is that it should come and renovate the bridge so that road users can enjoy the usual convenience they had when the bridge was in good shape.

“There are many people in a hurry to get to the airport. They will be looking for an alternative road, not knowing that LASTMA officials are looking for preys. The government should come and do it.

“Segun Kolade is a mechanic who operates at Toyota. He said: “We know that fire has damaged the bridge and the government’s intention to renovate it is in the right direction because the fire would have weakened the bridge. Apart from that, before the fire incident, the bridge used to shake when vehicles were on the bridge.

“The delay in renovating the bridge is causing suffering for people. I will advise that government expedite action on the bridge.”

A commuter, Adekunle Muritala, said: “We are asking the government to bring a solution to the abandoned bridge because it is causing a lot of inconveniences. People that are going to the airport are forced to go through Oshodi and get to Anthony before coming back to the airport and this is traumatic.

“We are pleading with the government to do something as early as possible so that people can make use of the easy access to the airport.”

Kamoru Olaore, a trader said: “The bridge is very useful in so many ways. Apart from leading to the airport, it also leads to a turning point for those going to Mile 2.

One can imagine drivers going to Anthony before they go to the airport. The earlier the government does the renovation, the better.

“Nobody envisaged that it would take so long. The time they came and did as if they were ready for the renovation, we met them and they told us that it would not be long but we are surprised that up to now, nothing is done,” he said.