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‘Third Mainland Bridge structurally stable, maintenance to avert rigidity’

By Gbenga Salau and Victor Gbonegun
19 July 2020   |   4:07 am
From Friday, July 24, 2020 to January 24, 2021, the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos State would undergo another round of repairs.

Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN

• Replacement Of Bearings, Worn-out Expansion Joints To Prolong Life – Popoola
From Friday, July 24, 2020 to January 24, 2021, the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos State would undergo another round of repairs.

The 11.8km bridge, the longest of three bridges connecting Lagos Island to the mainland, which has gone through a series of rehabilitation works, was last shut in August 2018 for a three days investigative maintenance check.

Constructed in 1990, the Facility, which starts from Oworonshoki, is linked to the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and ends at the Adeniji Adele Interchange on Lagos Island. The bridge was the longest in Africa until 1996.

The construction of the bridge was done in phases, with the first phase contract awarded to PGH Consortium, a venture consisting, Impresit Girola and Borini Prono, though Trevi Group provided support services for piling.

The phase one was designed to be five kilometres in length, (from the Island ending at Ebute Metta, en route Yaba).

The second phase of the construction (from Ebute-Metta to Oworonshoki) was awarded to Julius Berger, which was commissioned by former President Ibrahim Babangida in 1990.

During the six months of repairs, commuters and motorists are advised to consider using alternative routes to connect to their destinations, especially on Lagos Island.

The Federal Comptroller of Works in Lagos State, Olukayode Popoola said that the imminent repair works were in line with the need to periodically maintain the facility to prolong its life.

Popoola in an interview with The Guardian explained that from the inspection carried out on the facility, it was discovered that some of its bearings and expansion joints were already worn-out needing replacement.

He emphasised that even if it were one joint that needed to be fixed, it would require a partial closure before the exercise is carried out.

He insisted that the bridge is structurally stable, but the body systems need to be lubricated to avert rigidity.

Popoola said: “The last time we carried out maintenance on that bridge was in 2012. Then we changed the expansion joints of some parts of the bridge and then the bearing. Due to old age and constant usage, they have worn-out. We carried out some investigative tests in 2018, after which the contractor placed an order for the worn-out part, which are not manufactured in Nigeria.

“The components were imported into the country. Because of COVID-19, we couldn’t start the work immediately even though the project was awarded in 2018, and we are now in 2020, and there is a need to complete the contract. This will not be the last time in the history of the bridge that periodic maintenance would be carried out to maintain its serviceability.”

The federal comptroller also urged motorists and residents not to panic as the repairs were designed to prolong the life of the bridge.

“Motorists and other road users should allow the construction firm to do its job; ensure discipline while using the bridge by maintaining the lanes and avoid criss-crossing. Once they can do that, we will finish the repairs on time. Whoever doesn’t have any serious work to do at the Island during the period should please stay away,” he said

Popoola, who spoke earlier about the upcoming exercise, explained that contrary to details in the news, only the outward mainland section of the bridge would be closed to traffic during the first phase, which would last about three months, while repair works on the other section would also last for another three months.

According to him, the rehabilitation work would involve replacing the bearings and the expansion joints, while insisting that investigation carried out last year when the bridge was initially closed for three days revealed the need to so do.

Phase One of the diversion (repairs of the Oworonsoki bound lane), Popoola said, would be for morning traffic from 12:00 am to 1:00 pm from Oworonshoki to Lagos Island (on the Lagos Island-bound lane), while the afternoon traffic from 1:00 pm to 12:00 am would be from Lagos Island to Oworonsoki on the Lagos Island-bound lane.

He said the Phase Two of the diversion, which would also last for three months is to effect repairs on the Lagos Island-bound lane of the bridge, which would be for morning traffic, from 12:00 am to 1:00 pm, from Oworonsoki to Lagos Island on the Oworonsoki-bound lane, while the afternoon traffic from 1:00 pm to 12:00 am would be from Lagos Island to Oworonsoki on the Oworonsoki-bound lane.

Consequently, motorists have been advised to also ply alternative routes from Carter Bridge through Iddo, through Oyingbo to join Adekunle ramp inward Oworonsoki. Motorists are also advised to ply the road from Ijora Olopa through Western Avenue to Ikorodu Road.

The first time that the government felt the need to repair the bridge was after many commuters, who plied the bridge often, in 2006, complained that it was vibrating. This resulted in the government carrying out some remedial works. Thereafter, a more comprehensive work was done in 2012, which led to the closure of the bridge for four months.

So this is not the first time Lagos residents would be going through this experience, neither is it the first time the Federal Government would be repairing the bridge.

Popoola, while speaking on the inconveniences the maintenance might cause motorists said the Federal Government and Lagos State government would work with appropriate agencies to ease traffic challenges, including directing motorists to alternative routes.

“Motorists are advised to also ply these alternative routes: First, from Carter Bridge through Iddo, through Oyingbo to join Adekunle ramp inward Oworonsoki. Second, from Ijora Olopa through Western Avenue to Ikorodu Road,” the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos said.

On his part, the Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Fredrick Oladeinde, said that motorists from the Mainland that are heading to the Island in the morning and afternoon would be given priority to use the bridge, while those driving against traffic will use the alternative routes.

Oladeinde assured motorists that the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) would work with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in all the alternative routes to ensure that motorists have a smooth journey during the partial closure of the bridge.

Be that as it may, with the poor state of alternative routes, some motorists are already expressing fears that even if a contingent of LASTMA and FRSC officers are deployed there, it would make little or no meaning, as the traffic situation would surely be chaotic.

For instance, because the Eko Bridge has been partially closed since March, traffic is usually diverted to Iponri or Bode Thomas. But another construction work is ongoing at Costain Bus Stop. So, there is the likelihood of chaos around the area as a result of vehicular traffic from Iponri road, and the awkward level crossing built around the Nigerian Breweries Plc.

While no construction work is going on at Agege Motor road (another likely alternative route), sections of the road from Oshodi up to Ojuelegba are in an awful state, especially between Challenge and Empire Bus Stop. The craters on the road often trap vehicles, especially when there is a heavy downpour.

The situation is similar on Ikorodu road, which also plays host to potholes and craters from Maryland to Jibowu. So, connecting the two major bridges that would take vehicles to the Island may become a daunting task, a development that may compound problems faced by motorists on the alternative routes, except some interventions come before the closure.

At present, motorists and commuters are not smiling driving through these routes and the closure of the Third Mainland Bridge means some of the over 117,000 vehicles that ply the bridge daily would be transferred to the alternative routes during peak hours.

Peace Edem, a resident of Surulere said as a result of the partial closure of the Eko Bridge, commercial buses heading to the Island from Kilo end up going through Shitta, Adeniran Ogunsanya to Bode Thomas, Eric More to Abebe Village to link up Costain en route Eko Bridge, with vehicles moving at snail speed from Shitta.

According to her, passing by the Stadium through Alaka, and then to Costain to link up Eko Bridge remains an option, but over time, articulated vehicles often careless, as they drive and park by the roadside thereby obstructing the free movement of traffic.

“Seriously, going through all these is not funny at all. The experience is really bad daily,” she said.

Sijuwade, a public servant, who lives around Anthony Village, said getting to her office daily has been hectic for some time now, as she usually spends over one hour between Anthony and Jibowu, a journey that should take a few minutes.

An Italian firm, Messrs Borini and Company Limited, which constructed the bridge in 1990, would handle the proposed repairs.