Once again, hope of respite has been raised for motorists and residents of Apapa, Lagos as the contractor handling the rehabilitation work on the failed portion of the Ijora-Apapa Bridge says he has completed his work and the bridge is ready for use again.
When BusinessDay visited the site yesterday, it was seen that work had actually been completed on the bridge and some of the workers were seen cleaning up the area to rid the bridge of construction debris.
One of the site workers, who did not want to be named, confirmed that work had been completed and that the bridge would be opened to the public the next day (today).
Adedamola Kuti, the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, who also confirmed the completion of work on the bridge, however, countered that the bridge would not be opened today because “I have to go there to inspect what they have done and decide whether it should be opened or not”.
“The bridge is ready, but it will not be opened tomorrow; we are however trying to ensure that it is opened this week; not tomorrow. We know that motorists have been passing through pains in that axis, but all we are doing is for them to have smooth driving experience”, he noted.
In the last three months the bridge had been under rehabilitation, it has been journey through hell for motorists to get to Apapa, Nigeria’s premier port city which habours the country’s two busiest sea ports where about 75 percent of the country’s import and export activities take place.
The site worker explained that it took so long to complete the rehabilitation work on the bridge because “the main work that was done included the expansion joints which were about 10 plus the work done on the bearing which was why the bridge was shaking before now.”
The worker argued that, if all the bridge needed was just asphalt paving, it would have taken about three days to complete. “But because of the expansion joints and a lot of bearing that were worked on, the work had to take that long,” the worker said.
The Federal Controller had, on another occasion, explained to BusinessDay on telephone that the delay in the rehabilitation of the bridge was as a result of the delay in the procurement of the materials which were to be imported.
Kuti assured that “as soon as the materials are shipped into the country, work would commence in earnest”. Today, the materials have been procured, the work done and the motorists are set for a smooth ride on the bridge when it is finally opened to the public.
The Ijora Bridge is one of the only two major routes to Apapa ports. The other is Apapa-Oshodi Expressway. This explains why Apapa as a port city is not only congested but also suffocating businesses and residents many of whom are now seeking alternative locations.
The closure of the bridge escalated the notorious Apapa gridlock and added more stress on motorists who have been compelled to use equally bad and narrow alternative routes, spending over four hours commuting to the port city each day they put their cars on road.
Apapa-Oshodi Expressway remains a major “highway to hell” and the Trailer Park being built to take away some of the trucks mindlessly parked on the expressway has become an perpetual construction site where the contractor and his sleeping workers have been marooned for close to eight years now.
A lead from our source that the park has been handed over to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to manage could not be confirmed as efforts to get a reaction from the ports authority did not yield any fruit. “I am not aware of any such move”, a source close to the authority’s corporate communications unit, who did not want to be named, told BusinessDay on phone, assuring he would revert, but did not as at press time.
However, Hadiza Bala-Usman, managing director NPA had said the authority was perfecting arrangement to put advertisement for interested private sector operators to bid for the management of selected truck parks in partnership with the ports authority.
CHUKA UROKO & ENDURANCE OKAFOR
Tags: Ijora Bridge