That the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos will be closed from July 2020 to January 2021 to enable the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to carry out repair works on the bridge is no longer news. What is news, instead, is that motorists on that route have the longest six months of their driving experience staring them in the face.
The Lagos never-ending traffic congestion story is never complete without a mention of the snarling, nerves-straining gridlock that defines daily driving experience on that ever-busy 11.8-kilometer bridge that has not, according to federal authorities, received any form of maintenance in eight years.
That experience is even under normal circumstances. With repair work going on coupled with the partial closure of the bridge, it means motorists have to prepare their minds for more tortuous driving and longer travel time. It calls for endurance and tactical scheming.
But the government says there are alternative routes. These alternative routes, according to Olukayode Popoola, the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, are Carter Bridge through Iddo and Oyingbo to join Adekunle ramp inward Oworoshoki and another from Ijora-Olopa through Western Avenue to Ikorodu Road.
Lagos state government also assures motorists of less stressful travel experience. Fredrick Oladeinde, the state’s Commissioner for Transportation, disclosed at a press briefing in Lagos Tuesday that “a traffic advisory for alternative routes has been carefully planned to ease travelling for commuters plying the route.”
The diversion of traffic to the identified alternative routes means that even motorists who ordinarily have no business going to the island will be affected. Ikorodu Road, for instance, will be under serious pressure as it is going to be the receiver-route for vehicles coming from Eko Bridge, Ijora-Olopa and Western Avenue.
Most, if not all, of these alternative routes, are in deplorable condition. Though Aramide Adeyoye, Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Works and Infrastructure, says the state government has commenced remediation works on the identified alternative routes to make it motorable for the public, it remains to be seen how far that can go with the daily heavy downpour in the city.
“We expect to see Lagos crawl within this period. The alternative routes which are already congested are not in good motorable condition. More vehicles coming to join those routes will certainly create a driving experience that is better imagined than expressed,” said Frank Onwubuya who lives in Isolo but works on the Island.
Oladeinde assured that officials from Lagos State Transport Management Authority(LASTMA), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) as well as other relevant government agencies would be on the ground to enforce the traffic plan and ensure easy movement during the closure.
But Onwubuya is skeptical, saying, “we have seen this kind of situation before and the experience cannot be forgotten in a hurry. My advice is that people have to plan their movements very well before hitting the road. If you had been spending two or three hours to get to your office or to keep an appointment on the island, make allowance for the expected slow down; add one or two hours to be on the safe side.”
For those who must make use of the Third Mainland Bridge to access the island, Popoola says traffic would be diverted for only the Lagos Island Bound section of the bridge to take motorists from Oworoshoki inward Lagos from 12 midnight to 1 am in the morning.
In the afternoon, from 1pm to 12 midnight daily, he added that the section of the road will be opened to traffic from Lagos Island inward Oworoshoki. “This arrangement will be alternated for the second phase of the project on the Oworoshoki bound lane after the first phase must have been concluded,” he assured.