As the partial closure of Third Mainland Bridge begins at midnight today, the Lagos State Government has allayed fears of residents on possible hardship that commuters travelling inward and outward Lagos Island might encounter.
Speaking on Friday at a press conference by the Ministries of Transportation, Works and Infrastructure and their information and Strategy counterpart at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre on Friday, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, reiterated that motorists need not entertain any anxiety but should cooperate with traffic officers to have a hitch-free journey while the repair works last.
“Sure we are not toeing this path for the first time. We promised a traffic management plan that will reduce the travel time from Ikorodu to Lagos while the failed portion of the road at Kosofe is being fixed. Users of that road will attest to the heavy reduction in travel time now and that will be further improved upon at the completion of the road” Omotoso said.
“That experience is expected to be replicated on this project. We, therefore, implore the motoring public to exercise patience and obey traffic rules and regulations as enough men will be on hand to guide them”, he added.
Speaking on efforts by the Ministry of Transportation to ensure seamless motoring during the period of closure, the Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Frederic Oladeinde said, “Lagosians need not be worried about the closure because 75% of the vehicular traffic in and from the Island road will not be affected.”
Noting that the repairs of the faulty segment of the Third Mainland Bridge cannot be delayed further in order to ensure the safety of motorists, Oladeinde gave an assurance that alternative routes are in place to accommodate 25% volume of vehicles that would be affected by the partial closure.
He also appealed to motorists to give maximum cooperation to the traffic officers that would be deployed to put the situation under control, saying “they are to work for 24 hours within the period.”
In her contribution at the media briefing, the Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Works and Infrastructure, Engineer Aramide Adeyoye pointed out that the approval for repairs of the Third Mainland Bridge will actually span a period of two years but the repair is being done in stages due to the quantum of funds required for the project as well as the technical processes involved in manufacturing the parts needed to fix the bridge.
The Special Adviser said the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure will continue to fix all alternative routes created to ease traffic on the Third Mainland Bridge to ensure that there are no undue delays anywhere along the traffic chain leading to and from Lagos Island.
Responding to a question on the terrible state of the Lagos Abeokuta Expressway, Engineer Adeyoye said, “Funding for the repairs of the road (Lagos-Abeokuta Express way) is available but the procurement process can’t be skipped. The Minister of Works and Housing has given assurance that once the processes leading to disbursement of funds are completed, repair work will commence on Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
The Special Adviser appealed to commuters who ply the expressway to endure a little bit more, noting that the Lagos State government feels the pain of Lagosians and is in constant discussions with the Federal Government to ensure that the repair works commence as quickly as possible.
Speaking further on traffic control, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr. Oluwatoyin Fayinka said that 650 Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) officials have been assigned to cover various areas to manage traffic, adding that the officers of the Federal Road Safety Corps and the Nigeria Police are also part of the team to manage and enforce traffic laws during the period of closure. “The officers have been retrained for this exercise. They are to ensure that the free flow of traffic is not jeopardised”, Fayinka said.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Vice Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Restoration of Law and Order in Apapa, who was also a Commissioner for Transportation in Lagos State, Mr. Kayode Opeifa allayed the fears of commuters about the likely traffic congestion that will result from the closure.
He went down memory lane to recall about four instances when the Third Mainland Bridge had been shut for repairs and the exercise was handled without hitches, adding that with many alternative routes put in good condition and access to information on various media outlets, including Traffic Radio and Google Maps, timing one’s travel time has become easier.
Opeifa maintained that with the level of preparedness by the Federal and Lagos State governments, there will be no other reason for congestion except the unruliness of motorists who refuse to cooperate with traffic management personnel.
He cautioned that the first two weeks of the closure could be challenging to motorists as panicky road users will cluster the road at the same time to beat the traffic but this will fizzle out as motorists will adjust to the new routes.
He gave an assurance that cooperation and compliance with LASTMA, FRSC and other traffic management agencies will make the period of closure less cumbersome for motorists and other road users.
While promising continuous monitoring of the situation by representatives of the Federal and State governments, Opeifa recalled that the Third Mainland Bridge had been closed at various times in the past and the situation was well-handled without any need for undue panic and hardship to Lagosians.