Nine months after closure, completion date for airport link bridge remains uncertain
Traders, Artisans Turn Space To Mobile Workshops
Concerns heightened, last week, that the rehabilitation works ongoing at the partly burnt Lagos Airport Link Bridge at Toyota Bus Stop on Isolo-Oshodi Expressway will linger for a while, as the September 22, date of completion and hand over to government has come and gone, yet contractors are still at site and working at a snail speed.
The closure which has not only caused untold hardship to travellers and commuters, who use the bridge as a major route to the international airport, but has also made workers of some small businesses operating along the axis to close shop early to beat traffic hold ups. Aside this, it has made roads leading to Ajao Estate, Mafoluku and Isolo to witness heavy traffic in the peak hours of the day.
Recall that part of the bridge was damaged when on January 7, 2021, a tanker conveying fuel burnt on it, leading to its closure to vehicular movement to enable government conduct structural engineering tests on the bridge.
Identifying different levels of damage, the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Olukayode Popoola, announced that the bridge would be closed to traffic from Friday, August 13, 2021 to September 22, 2021, six weeks, to enable the contractor carryout its work.
Last week, September 22, motorists and other road users heaved a sigh of relief, thinking the bridge would be opened to traffic after about nine months of closure, saying the opening will save them the troubles of using the various long alternative routes, which are full of pot holes, cause heavy traffic and loss of man-hours.
However, this joy is short-lived because as of the time The Guardian visited the bridge the granular materials comprising the base course, asphalt and others have not been done thereby heightening fears that the Federal and Lagos State governments are not in a haste to open the bridge.
Despite this, sources close to the contractors say the delay is not from them, as both the Federal and Lagos State governments are yet to fulfill their financial commitment to the project. He noted that the work has reached advanced stage and if both governments come to terms on their agreement that the job could be delivered within October.
Commenting on the progress of the ongoing job, one of the site engineers, who spoke under the condition of anonymity said Lagosians should bear with the contractors, who according to him are taking their time to fortify the weak regions of the bridge, stressing that such fortifications take time, especially as they have to be done in stages.
He revealed that the work is ongoing and that the bridge is going to be given a rigid placement to fortify it the more.
“The work is not abandoned. The site is only cordoned off so nobody knows what is happening here. There are lots of activities going on here, but because it is covered many people think the engineers are not working. We are trying to be protective in order to prevent further hazard.
“We have different work stages including deformation stage, where you exacerbate the level and after that build in layers. We have to follow international standards and not just mount tippers of sand at a time. If these things are not done properly, there will be a problem in future.
“There is also the stabilisation stage and then the laying of bitumen which will soon commence. So after that, we will then talk about superstructure, which is the laying of the enforcement and casting. It is after this, we run tests before and after placing of the concrete,” he said.
Aside from funding, the engineer noted that the contractors need time to carry out some of their tests and to fortify the weak regions.
According to him, all these tests take seven, 21 and 28 days to complete, stressing that Lagosians should not be worried, as the contractors are working to hand over a well rehabilitated bridge to the public.
On the commercial motorcyclists still using the bridge after it has been blocked for traffic, the engineer said it is not helping matters and wants government to help check them.
Owing to the waiting, traders and artisans have turned the available space at the foot of the bridge to mobile workshop, while urchins are having a field day, collecting toll from the commercial motorcyclists.
For Samuel Nsika, whose office is at the International Airport, the Federal and Lagos State governments are not giving the bridge the attentions it deserves, saying if they had known the huge amount the nation is losing from the bridge which links Apapa Port and the international airport they will be quick to fix it.
“We are losing huge some money for this failure and it is better authorities concern to begin work,” he said.