By Tayo Ogunbiyi
Beginning from Friday, July 24, the second longest bridge in Africa, the Third Mainland Bridge, will be partially shut down for maintenance work. The bridge, which starts from Oworonshoki and links Apapa-Oshodi Expressway as well as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and ends at the Adeniji Adele Interchange on Lagos Island, is arguably the busiest in Africa.
The bridge, which was inaugurated in 1990 by the Babangida military junta, used to be the longest in Africa until 1996 when The 6th October Bridge in Cairo, Egypt was completed. There has been reports about some weak joints of the bridge, which has raised some serious safety worries for users of the bridge.
According to the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Mr. Olukayode Popoola, the bridge was last closed for repairs in August 2018 for three days of investigative maintenance check. Thereafter, some components needed for completion of repairs were sourced abroad because they were not available locally.
In order to ensure a seamless repair exercise, the Federal and the Lagos State Governments had engaged in several consultations aimed at developing a perfect traffic management plan. Thus, the Federal government will be working with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) as well as the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) to manage traffic during the period. About 600 LASTMA personnel would be deployed to direct traffic to ensure free vehicular movement on major routes across the axis.
During a recent press conference jointly held by the Federal Controller of works in Lagos, Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Frederic Oladeinde and the Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Works, Aramide Adeyoye, Lagosians were assured that necessary measures would be put in place to reduce gridlocks during partial closure of the bridge.
Consequently, there would be diversion of traffic in two phases during the partial closure of the bridge between Friday July 24, 2020 and January 24, 2021.
The phase one of the diversion, which will last for three months for repairs of the Oworonsoki bound lane of the bridge, would be from 12:00am to 1:00pm from Oworonshoki to Lagos Island on the Lagos Island bound lane, while the afternoon traffic from 1:00pm to 12:00am would be from Lagos Island to Oworonsoki on the Lagos Island bound lane.
The phase two, which is to last for another three months for repairs of the Lagos Island bound lane of the bridge, would be for morning traffic from 12:00am to 1:00pm from Oworonsoki to Lagos Island on the Oworonsoki bound lane, while the afternoon traffic from 1:00pm to 12:00am would be from Lagos Island to Oworonsoki on the Oworonsoki bound lane.
In order to ease the inconveniences which the maintenance of the bridge might cause, especially in terms of traffic build up, motorists have been urged to ply some alternative routes such as Carter Bridge through Iddo through Oyingbo to join Adekunle ramp inward Oworonsoki. Secondly, motorists could also ply Ijora Olopa through Western Avenue to Ikorodu Road.
According to the Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Oladeinde, priority would be given to motorists driving from Mainland to the Island in the morning and afternoon to use the Third Mainland, while those driving against traffic will use the alternative routes.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State government had carried out improvement work on alternative routes mapped out for diversions. According to the State governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, more roads have been furnished while the design of the alternative routes have been improved. The State government is equally working on other arterial routes so that motorists and commuters can have seamless journey times to and from their places of work.
Significant efforts have been made toward providing alternative routes during the closure. The Federal Ministry of Works has repaired Iddo-Oyingbo Road, while the drains on the road has equally been cleared. Failed portions of the Independence Tunnel on Ikorodu Road have also been fixed.
With all these measures, the partial closure would likely affect only about 25 per cent of the regular traffic on the bridge. The 75 per cent of vehicles that normally ply the route will still have access to move on the bridge during the period of repair.
To further assuage the discomfort that may be experienced by commuters and ease the roads of gridlock, the State government had strengthened the State-owned Lagos Ferry Service (LAGFERRY) by doubling its capacity for mass movement, thereby giving the residents an alternative through water transportation.
Consequently, commercial operation is to commence on two new routes, Ilaje-Bariga Terminal, where passengers would be conveyed from Oworonsoki to Victoria Island to Falomo-Ikoyi to CMS-Marina and Ebute-Ero; as well as Bayeku to Oke Ra Nla to Badore.
The increase in LAGFERRY’s daily operation will see most of the large passenger-boats, like the 50 Seater MV Mobolaji Johnson and MV Bola Tinubu, embark on two trips every morning and evening respectively.
From the foregoing, Lagosians do not really have much to fret about in respect of the partial closure of the Third Mainland Bridge. All that is required is for motorists, commuters and the general public to strictly adhere to traffic advice and rules during the period.
-Ogunbiyi is of the Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja