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Motorists groan as FG fails October deadline to reopen burnt Lagos Airport link bridge

By Jesutomi Akomolafe
01 November 2021   |   3:13 am
Ten months after the burnt Murtala Mohammed Lagos airport link bridge was closed to traffic for structural test and repairs, the bridge is yet to be opened against

Ongoing works on the burnt bridge PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI<br />

Ten months after the burnt Murtala Mohammed Lagos airport link bridge was closed to traffic for structural test and repairs, the bridge is yet to be opened against the Federal Government’s promise to re-open the bridge to traffic by the end of October.
 
The Government had in June commenced repair works on the bridge, six months after the Toyota Bus Stop stretch of the link bridge was closed to traffic due to a fire incident that damaged a part of the bridge.

 
Before the contract was awarded to Plycom Nigeria Limited, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Alhaji Babangida Hussaini, had, during a two-day technical inspection of roads and housing projects in Lagos, given residents hope that work would commence on the bridge by the end of March.
   
But that did not materialise as it took additional three months for works to start on the bridge, notwithstanding that its closure had caused untold hardship to motorists and commuters around the area.
 
Before the commencement of the rehabilitation, the only means of transportation from the bus stop to the airport area had been through okada, which costs between N300 to N500 per passenger.
 

But motorists were apprehensive when House of Representatives member representing Oshodi/Isolo Federal Constituency II, Mr. Ganiyu Johnson, hinted that the flyover would be reopened to traffic in December, even though the engineer handling the contract for Plycom, Johnson Abolarewaju, had earlier told The Guardian that the rehabilitation would last only for four weeks.

However, the Federal Controller of Works Lagos, Mr. Olukayode Popoola, later allayed motorists’ fear, assuring that the bridge would be opened to traffic by the end of October.
 
He said: “We have finished the concrete work. We are waiting for it to cure and the cure will be by the end of October. That would be another two weeks. We want it to cure properly because when we open it, the bridge will be carrying heavy loads. If the concrete is not properly cured, it would be a problem”.

 
But motorists and road users, who are suffering from the continued closure of the bridge, are not happy with the Federal Government’s inability to keep its promise.
 
A motorist, Patrick Samuel, who spoke with The Guardian yesterday was worried that the Federal Government has not monitored the project since the contract was awarded, saying it was the reason for the slow pace of work on the bridge.
 
“How come it is taking them 10 months to reopen the road? The road is a federal road and for them to be giving priority to the service lane, simply means they don’t understand the issues. The real issue is the airport road link bridge and not the service lane. Most people who go to the airport are finding it difficult to navigate their way through,” he said.

Lamenting about the rigours of using the alternative routes, Samuel said motorists are made to drive towards Oshodi to navigate from Anthony that is noted for heavy traffic, before going to Airport road, which results in waste of fuel and time.
 
He said: “They should have focused on the bridge and finished it first before anything. And those who patronise Okada riders are afraid because of the Taskforce, which makes such journeys riskier. ”
 
Also, a commuter, Vincent Ekene, said the risk of using commercial motorcyclists along the highway every day is scary. He urged the government to place priority on the repairs by hastening the reopening of the bridge.

 
“We are suffering because of the government’s sluggishness. Whenever I am going to Airport road, I prefer to board buses, but when I get here at Toyota Bus Stop and cannot find buses, I have to use a bike and it has not been easy for me,” he said.
 
Another road user, simply identified as Chuks, blamed the contractors for the delay and called on the government to monitor the contractors more effectively.