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WHY THE THIRD MAINLAND BRIDGE MUST BE SHUT DOWN

Written by Chukwuma Obiasia

The recent announcement by the Federal Government to shut down the Third Mainland Bridge for six months beginning from July 24 2020 is long overdue and necessary in order to avert impending disasters, though it’ll be a painful inconvenience for commuters.

The last time the bridge was closed for such extended length of time was in August 2012 when a series of maintenance proceedures were conducted over a period of three months.

Months after, a group of structural engineers published a damning report questioning the quality of repairs that were carried out. The report warned that the maintenance exercises were hastily done without due diligence and could lead to a collapse of the bridge if no serious action was taken to forestall it.

Based on this report, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, who at the time represented Lagos East in the Senate, raised a motion in February 2013 demanding an investigation into the quality of repairs done on the bridge by the Ministry of Works. Senator Ashafa further implored his colleagues that the matter is treated with a sense of urgency. He also urged the federal government at the time to take the necessary steps to avoid a fatal disaster.

Seven years later, 2020, while a couple of maintenance exercises has been carried out, the main structural issue identified in the report is yet to be addressed. This explains the sense of urgency with which the Minister of Works is driving this task. The truth is that the structural defects on the bridge are both worrisome and scary.

Thankfully, the Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola, who once served as the Governor of Lagos state, is committed to seeing this through. Fashola seems quite invested in ensuring that the bridge does not pose any risk to the lives of Lagosians, hence the tough decision taken to ensure the repairs are carried out in full.

The Third Mainland bridge is estimated to have over 117,000 vehicles plying on it daily, according to a traffic count embarked upon by the Ministry of Works. It is a major link between the mainland and the island where most corporate business activities are carried out. There is, therefore, no doubt that closing the bridge for 6 months, especially at a time when other road construction work is ongoing, would bring untold hardship to the residents of Lagos state.

This decision by the Government means longer hours in traffic, increased cases of robberies in traffic, lower productivity from employees and a significant decline in some business activities. That said, the risk of ignoring the needed repairs on the bridge are significantly higher than any potential inconvenience the closure might cause.

About the author

Chukwuma Obiasia

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