Some bridges in Lagos are already bearing the brunt of long poor planning and pressure arising from surging population and economic activities or poor maintenance culture.
Some of these are are Ijora, Eko and Carter Bridges and are under great strains from mostly articulated vehicles that have turned the bridges into garage. This has worsened traffic situation in arears such as Ojuelegab, Yaba,, Oyigbo and more with constant gridlocks and the deplorable state of roads leading to ports and tank farms. Other bridges affected by similar stress are those at Abati Barracks, Ojuelegba and Stadium.
Most of the bridges were constructed during the 1970s oil boom.
But the misuse of these bridges poses great threats to life and property. The presence of these articulated vehicles must be seen as abnormality that should which require solutions.
The challenge on the bridges is being exacerbated by construction on the Apapa Road. As a result, many vehicles are forced to stay permanently on the bridges for weeks, due to lack of loading bays in tank farms and oil companies.
The load on these bridges, not originally designed to host heavy static vehicles, and a lack of consistent and thorough maintenance could spell tragedy of unimaginable proportion.
The bridges were not designed for such heavy and stationary vehicles and it could collapse them unannounced. Former President of NIStructE, Oreoluwa Fadayomi, alarmed that. “When these vehicles are stationary on the bridges for a long time, they have negative impacts. These include deterioration, bridge-fatigue, damage or even collapse. Bridges are made so that vehicles keep moving.”
He also warned that if any of the trucks should catch fire, the disaster would be unimaginable. Engineer Fadayomi warned that “something should be done to stop it very fast because of the negative effect on the infrastructure and possible disaster in
the event of a collapse’.
Dr. Samuel Ilugbekhai, also a former President of Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (NIStructE), explained that the state of the bridges is one of gross structural abuse. He stressed that they were not designed to bear enormous weight from static trailers and tankers, and warned that their life spans could be shortened. According to him bridges are not designed to retain loads for one hour, two hours, days or weeks.
Also, the present President of the Nigerian Institute of Structural Engineers, Eddy Atumonyogo, added that besides the destructive strain on the bridges, aesthetics is also compromised, with engine oil and other pollutants threatening surfaces.
The present Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Mr Adedamola Kuti, assured that the Federal Ministry of Works was working toward speedy completion of all road projects in Lagos.
Also, Mr. Raji Fashola, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing assured that the government and relevant stakeholders had agreed that the best way to go ‘is the
relocation of truck drivers to available holding bays or any other suitable places other than the highways or bridges’.
Fashola pointed out the need ”for all stakeholders to join hands to halt the abuse on Nigerian roads and agreement that tank farm owners and sea port operators should comply with the axle load limits by installing weighbridges at their depots/ports’.
The truck drivers, however, complained that they are forced to park on bridges because there are no trailer parks in Lagos.
However, it has been observed that Nigeria would need $8 billion yearly to close up the huge gap in its public infrastructure and about $14 billion every year to fund infrastructure. Regrettably, current spending on infrastructure is an estimated $6 billion. Also, for decades, budgets for capital expenditure by federal and state governments have been on the decline while recurrent expenditure has been rising. The average government budget for capital expenditure has been about 25 per cent.