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Friday, June 9, 2023

Lagos 3rd Mainland Bridge Closure to Take Massive Toll On Businesses, Economy

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Lagos residents may be in for more hard times, as they gear up for the proposed 6-month long closure of the 3rd mainland bridge following its scheduled maintenance.

Experts, Residents and commuters have understandably rued the decision which they say will be one that is sure to further exacerbate their sufferings as well as retard businesses that have barely started recovering after the Federal Government backed shutdown.

A bitter pill administered on all to curb the spread of COVID 19.

There have also been debates hinged on the lack of vision of government at both state and federal levels who rather than ensure the continuance of road rehabilitation and construction during the lockdown, preferred to ignore such calls from technocrats and Nigerians on the need to take advantage of the ease, the lockdown would have provided for onsite workers.

Repair work according to the Lagos State Government is due to reports of some worn-out joints of the 3rd mainland bridge.

The state government also announced that the alternative routes mapped out following the planned 6 months’ closure, are ready for use after repair works on them.

This disclosure was made by the Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Frederic Oladeinde.

Oladeinde spoke during a briefing held to provide updates on the readiness of Lagos state for the partial closure of the bridge, slated to start on July 24.

He said that the provision of these alternative routes is in line with the state government’s agenda of ensuring free flow of traffic always during the period of closure.

Economist, Segun Aluko, during an interview with Money Central noted that though the proposed 3 months closure is intended to salvage the road due to safety concerns, the attendant consequences on the economy, will be grave.

He noted that that the negative impact will particularly be on small business that depend hugely on that route for mobility.

“We have heard arguments from Lagos state about the urgent need to fix the bridge, but then my question is why didn’t we take advantage of the COVID 19 induced lockdown,” Aluko said.

According to Aluko, “during the period of lockdown all over the world, Countries like the United States; specifically, states like California, United Kingdom, Kenya and Ghana Governments took due advantage of lockdowns to fix hitherto busy roads.

Timelines were given and adequately followed to the letter as Government ensured that contractors were busy on-site day and night.

It will interest you to note that roads that should ordinarily take 6 months to fix or maintain was completed in 1 to 2 months. But for us the case is different, we play politics with practically everything at our own peril.”

Aluko averred that the long hours spent daily in traffic holds as much devastating effects on the economy as it does on the mental and physical well-being of residents.

Aluko argues “Countries the world over took advantage and turned this crises to opportunity, but we refused to do that.

If you look at the Economic Benefit analysis, a total of N56bn will be spent on that maintenance while we have an estimated 1.5 million people who ply that road daily for various business activities.

I know the Lagos State government has provided alternative routes but majority of those routes are inadequate. Ikorodu road for example is under construction, Eko bridge is also undergoing rehabilitation. Majority of the roads are in a deplorable condition. The economy if you ask me will experience a setback worse than that induced by the COVID 19 lockdown, if not handled appropriately.”

Another economist, Kolopo Oluwo, also buttressed Aluko’s line of arguments as he explained that the effects of the 6 months long maintenance on businesses, will be huge as it will result in untold hardship for all.

“You already know that the traffic situation is a nail biting one. Add 6 months of Lagos 3rd mainland bridge closure to that. A bridge that an average of 2 million people utilize every day.”

He continued: “This is a bridge that starts from Oworonshoki and is linked to other routes like Apapa-Oshodi expressway, Lagos-Ibadan expressway, and ends at the Adeniji Adele Interchange on Lagos Island. There is also a link midway through the bridge that leads to Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba. That is to tell you that it the most strategic bridge in Lagos and one that aids a lot of economic activities.”

“As it stands, commuters waste an average of 3 to 4 hours daily in traffic gridlocks, now multiply that by 2 and then the amount of people who ply that road. The economic cost within this period will be mind-boggling. Having said that, fixing the road is equally important, but we should have done this during the lockdown which presented a great opportunity to maintain the 3rd mainland bridge and other problematic roads.

For me it is the lack of vision that keeps hindering our growth in this clime. Look at all the roads in Lagos now, they are in shambles. Even the water ways are now seldom used, after some boat accidents which according to reports were caused by sea weed.”

“Why not clear the waterways and facilitate the completion of the blue light rail (the 27-kilometre Badagry line running from Okokomaiko that feeds most part of Lagos urgently? This will go a long way in easing the complex problem of transportation in Lagos as well as generate billions in revenue for the state. This Government of Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the previous ones keep mouthing smart city, but what have they done that is close to actualising it,” he said.

Aluko further said, a lot must be done by the Lagos State Government before the 3rd mainland bridge closure on Friday, which includes, doing quick palliatives on the roads particularly, filling the pot holes and clearing the streets of road side traders particularly those on Lagos Island.

“Also the trucks and containers in Orile, Mile 2, Costain that have taken up valuable portion of the road through indiscriminate parking, should be cleared off urgently. Anything to the contrary would be mere political grandstanding.”

He added that alternative routes mentioned by Government are empty political statements used to divert attention from the main challenge.

A Lagos resident, Segun Akanbi, lamented, that there is almost no area in the state spared of bad roads, but the worst-hit are: Mile 2, Abule Ado, Alakija, Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway up to Ikeja Along, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Oworonshoki- Oshodi Expressway, Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Ikorodu Road, Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Funsho-Wiliams Avenue, by Costain area, which has been closed to traffic for construction work on the Costain bridge.

Others are: Kirikiri Road, Apapa, which has worsened traffic gridlock caused by truck operators who have taken over the road leaving little or no space for other road users.
Satellite Town Road, Oriade LCDA, Otto-Wharf Badagry Road, Ajegunle, In Ajeromi- Ifelodun LGA. Chavira-Canoe Road, Oshodi-Isolo LGA, Isheri-Osun, LCDA, Ishawo, Road, Idimu Pipeline, Ikorodu, among others. The list is endless.

Fixing the bridge, he noted is equally important, but the smart thing is that the Lagos State Government under Babajide Sanwo Olu should carry out quick palliatives to cushion the impact on the wear and tear of lives and property.

“Let’s not deceive ourselves there are no alternative routes that can salvage the pain Lagosians will face in the coming months. Mile 2 particularly has a large crater there that is practically impassable,” Akanbi said.

“These days, navigating the Lagos-Badagry Expressway is a regular nightmare for commuters and motorists who ply the international route daily. This is because of the countless failed portions on both sides of the highway, worsened by persistent rainfall which in-turn forces motorists to spend valuable man-hours on the road at the risk of high way robbers and avoidable health issues. The Governor should please listen to our pains and urgently rescue Lagos and Lagosians,” Akanbi said.

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