Eko Bridge Repair: Motorists, commuters decry poor traffic management
Barely three months after the Eko Bridge was partially closed to vehicular traffic, connecting Lagos Island through the bridge has become a pain in the neck for many motorists and commuters.
Ironically, making use of the alternative routes is no better for motorists and commuters that are making their way into the island.
Eko Bridge is one of the three bridges that connect Lagos mainland to the Island. It was partially closed to vehicular traffic as a result of the fire incident that razed the Apongbon section of the bridge, on March 23, this year.
In announcing the closure, the state government named alternative routes, which it added, would be manned by officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).
When The Guardian visited the section of the bridge that was affected by the inferno, the contractor was seen reinforcing some of the pillars that got damaged. About 12 pillars were damaged, and need to be reinforced.
While traffic officers were visible at the bypass at Eko Bridge linking Apongbon Street, they were nowhere in sight on the alternative routes. They were also not in sight at Carter Bridge, Idumota, and Ereko Street.
Even though Idumota Roundabout and Ereko Street are not closed to vehicular traffic, accessing Ereko Street, through Carter Bridge en route to Marina/CMS remains a Herculean task.
On Eko Bridge, petty traders and commercial bus drivers jointly run riot there, and prevent the free flow of traffic. Large portions of the road have been converted into the trading arena and parking lots for passengers to alight or board the buses.
Similarly, the hectic traffic on Eko Bridge would have been reduced if the connecting Apongbon Street was in a good state. But there were multiple potholes clustered in the middle of the street. As a result of the deplorable state of the road, motorists are forced to make a U-turn after descending from the bridge to link Apongbon Road, instead of driving straight to link Apongbon Street en route to Leventis/UBA Roundabout.
Commenting, a resident, Chidimma Onyekwe, who stays on the mainland, but works at Marina, lamented that the partial closure of the bridge has negatively affected her, saying that in the mornings, it takes her about two to three hours to get to CMS Bus stop from the mainland, with a greater part of the time spent on Eko Bridge as a result of the slow and hectic traffic.
“This is a journey that should not take more than 5 minutes. I close from work by 6:30 pm, and due to the partial closure of the bridge, I will walk from Tinubu Square to Apongbon and get a bus to connect mainland, sometimes. This is to avoid spending time in traffic. It is not that I will get a bus immediately after I arrive at Apongbon. Sometimes, I wait for up to one hour before getting a bus. And this was not the case before the bridge was damaged, and partially closed to vehicular traffic. Before now, buses were usually available at Tinubu Square, Marina, and CMS to pick up passengers heading to the mainland during the close of work,” Onyekwe said.
Another resident, Mrs. Gloria Bakare, a resident of the Alagomeji area of Yaba confirmed that using the alternative routes has become more difficult as a result of the partial closure of the bridge.
“However, the closure of the bridge does not affect me because for me to keep to my resumption time, I leave home more than an hour earlier, despite staying not too far from the Island. The impact of this on my health is bad, as I am stressed, have lost weight, and a bit unhappy,” she stated.
Going to the Island now demands a lot of planning and preparation for Jumoke Adejare, who explained that the partial closure of the Eko Bridge has increased travel time along the axis.
Even though John Benjamin, another resident does not use the bridge daily, with his experience on it on the few occasions that he did, he concluded that “the government partially failed in its responsibility. I think making a U-turn after coming down from the bridge increased the confusion. If the straight road by the pillars of the rail track linking the UBA Roundabout were in good shape, many vehicles would not be making U-turns to link Apongbon Road, but drive straight ahead, and the inconvenience and time wasted in trying to make the U-turn would have been eliminated,” Benjamin stated.
For David Ijaseun, what hurts the most is seeing Lagosians being fined, or embarrassed by LASTMA officials and policemen for resorting to the use of the BRT lane in their attempt to get out of the traffic snarl.
He added that as a result of the partial closure of the bride, he now factors in extra time whenever he has an appointment to keep at the island.
“Out of 24 hours in a day, most Lagos residents spend a couple of that in traffic daily. Some get so frustrated with what is happening and resort to trekking. Those that are in a chauffeur-driven vehicle that attempts to work in traffic using mobile devices become easy targets for traffic robbers. Those who trek get easily worn out before reaching their destinations or offices. It is just a very frustrating experience.”
For Peace Maurice, it was bad and painful staying in traffic for three to four hours, just because a section of a bridge was closed to vehicular traffic. She noted that sometimes for like 20 minutes, her bus might not move an inch.
“I do not understand why the government will close the bridge, and not ensure free-flowing traffic on the alternative routes. It is annoying to be stuck in traffic to and from work. This drains people mentally and physically, and there is no way that you can function effectively at work and home. The government should do the damaged bridge quickly because it seems to be taking a long time to complete the repair works,” Maurice said.
Commenting on the development, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said that the complaints were not totally unexpected as people can longer move as fast as they used to as a result of the partial closure of the bridge.
“As you have observed, people are trading there, so the human factor is in the mix, and that has to be considered. People are trading where they are not expected to trade, they do not only move their wares where they are not expected to, but they have taken over under the bridge as well. Not only are they trading there, but they are also cooking and that is what led to a fire incident that got the bridge burnt, and the government is the one that is now carrying the burden. And this is not supposed to be so.
“Those trading on the bridge and obstructing the free movement of human and vehicular traffic are not doing themselves, or the commuters any good. We sent the task force to clear them off, but they will always complain. The Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) officers have been arresting and seizing their goods, but our men cannot be there 24 hours.”