•Sanwo-Olu issues quit notice to traders, squatters to prevent future damage to flyover
•’Reopening made possible by support from Lagos Govt’ – Fed. Works Comptroller
The long wait for the re-opening of Eko Bridge in Lagos State has ended. The flyover is now open for vehicular traffic, 15 months after it was closed by the Federal Government for a major repair.
The bridge was severely damaged at Apogbon section during a fire caused by illegal trading under it. The intensity of the inferno was said to have weakened major components and supporting pillars of the bridge, prompting its closure for extensive repair on the entire stretch.
Eko Bridge is one of the three bridges linking the mainland to the Island of Lagos.
The bridge’s reopening brought huge relief for motorists and commuters, who endured months of pain transiting in and out of Lagos Island.
Scores of excited commuters, on Saturday evening, received Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Federal Comptroller of Works, Engr. Olukorede Keisha, at a drive through ceremony for the reopening of the flyover.
Sanwo-Olu said the repair at the Apogbon axis had been completed, but disclosed that maintenance work would continue on the infrastructure, which would lead to intermittent closures in the coming months.
The Governor conveyed the Federal Government’s apology to Lagos residents for the delay in getting the bridge back to use, stressing that it would be risky to reopen the bridge without proper reconstruction of the damaged section.
Sanwo-Olu said: “It is with great delight to announce that we have carried out comprehensive tests with the contractor from the Federal Ministry of Works and we believe that Apogbon section of the Eko Bridge can now be opened for motorists. But the maintenance work on the entire bridge has not completed. There are lots of bearings that still need to be reinforced along the entire stretch of the infrastructure.
“In future, there will be more intermittent closures at different sections of the bridge but the period may not be longer than one or two weeks. This is necessary for us to jerk up the bridge and complete the maintenance work. We are reopening the bridge to bring relief to road users, who have endured hardship due to the repair work.”
The Governor said the contractor handling the work would also be reconstructing ancillary roads along the corridor to prevent further misuse of the bridge.
Sanwo-Olu said continuous trading activities under the bridge would no longer be permitted to prevent further damage to the flyover.
The Governor issued a seven-day ultimatum to all traders and illegal squatters to remove their belongings and vacate the space under the Eko Bridge. He directed the Lagos State Environment and Special Offences Enforcement Unit (Taskforce) to clear any illegal structure found under the bridge after the ultimatum.
He said: “We are using this medium to warn those trading under the bridge that we will not tolerate any form of illegal activities under this bridge and other bridges in the State. The bridges are important assets to the State and we cannot fold our arms and allow a few people to destroy them.
“We have seen the effect which the destruction on Eko Bridge caused the entire city. We cannot afford to have these bridges shut down again because of illegal activities. We will clear all squatters from Ijora Olopa to Costain and there will be zero tolerance for market activity under the bridge.”
Keisha thanked Lagos State Government for collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Works to hasten up the repair work on the bridge, noting that the reopening of the bridge was made possible because of the intervention of the State Government.
She said comprehensive maintenance work had already started on Eko Bridge before the fire incident happened, which made the contractor to abandon the work to focus on the damaged sections. Having repaired the parts damaged by the fire, Keisha said the contractor would continue the maintenance work to reinforce the bridge for public safety.
She said: “The reopening of the bridge would not have been possible if the Lagos State Government had not come to our rescue. If not for the intervention of the State Government, what is happening here would not be achieve. We appreciate this collaboration and timely support. Having considered the hardship on motorists, Governor Sanwo-Olu brought the machinery of the State to the assistance of the Federal Government and get the work done.”