For some years now, riding on the Ijora-Apapa Bridge has become a journey of great discomfort. This is not so much about oil tankers and container-bearing trucks plying the bridge or converting it to a park, though this in itself is an issue of unending concern to motorists, commuters and residents of Apapa as the search for a lasting solution to the congestion continues.
But perhaps the congestion occasioned by the illegal parking of the trucks which compels motorists to reduce their speed to a zero level, has its own ‘merit’. And you are wondering what merit there is in traffic jam! The point is that while you go on that snail speed; you are unwittingly saving your car from the damage the defective bridge could do to it, especially your shock absorbers.
Truth is that all the expansion joints on the bridge from Ijora to Apapa have loosened up and are widening by the day. You get to fill the impact and the damaging effect on your car any day the bridge is free of its usual gridlock, enabling you to run at about 40 k/ph and above. For many motorists, it is indeed an awful experience.
“I never stop wondering why governments in this part of the world seem unable to get it right. In most case, existing infrastructure are allowed to deteriorate or even decay before the much desired intervention comes.
“I recall the case of Third Mainland Bridge a few years ago. It had reached a point where panic messages were being sent out that Third Mainland was vibrating and collapsing, before the Federal Ministry of Works mobilised to fix the damaged expansion joints. The same is happening on Ijora-Apapa Bridge while nothing is being done, said Mike, a motorist, who complained of the damage to the shock absorbers of his car, driving in and out of Apapa every day.
Chuks, also a motorist, said aside damage to vehicles; the bridge is vibrating and requires urgent intervention. “Perhaps engineers from the Federal Ministry of Works need to visit the bridge and critically look to see what’s going wrong. Whenever I am trapped in traffic, I usually feel the vibration while inside my car.”
Equally disturbed, Lagos State government said it has alerted the Federal Government to the continuing widening of the expansion joints on the bridge. Governor Babatunde Fashola said his government has written a letter to the Federal Ministry of Works drawing attention to the development.
“The Apapa-Ijora Bridge expansion joints have widened so dangerously that it is a nightmare to drive on it. I have sent the report of some of the studies we did to the Federal Ministry of Works showing what needs to be done and how much it will cost to do them,” said Fashola during a visit of Martin Luther Agwai led Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) committee to his office, last week.
Although the governor commended the earlier repair of the Third Mainland Bridge, he nonetheless, pointed out that there were other federal bridges needing attention in Lagos. “There are no less than 28 bridges in Lagos that belong to the Federal Government that have not been maintained in the last 40 years,” he said, stressing the need to invest proceeds from oil boom in enduring infrastructure for the future.
However, Godwin Ekeh, the federal controller of works, South-West zone, said plans were ongoing to repair damaged expansion joints in some bridges in Lagos. He said though challenged by funds, the Federal Ministry of Works intends to start with the Eko Bridge from August 18, 2014 and gradually move to other bridges.