New Telegraph

February 25, 2024

Whither burnt and closed International Airport Road link bridge

 

These days one basks in bewilderment and wonderment the way things are run in this country. A typical case in point is the tanker explosion by a petrol laden truck by the bridge that links Apapa/Oshodi with the International Airport road on January 7th, 2021.

Ordinarily accidents are seen as inevitable, unscheduled and in some cases unavoidable. And so Lagosians woke up in the morning of that fateful day to behold an explosive explosion that saw the petrol tanker burnt down from the brim to the last drop of the highly inflammable liquid. But that is life for you and one of the regular occurrences on major Nigerian roads and highways, Lagos roads inclusive these days.

 

The only significant difference here is that this very accident had in its trail other consequences that are affecting other aspects of our lives.

One of these aspects is that the major road that leads and links to the nation’s gateway the Muritala Mohammed International Airport road and indeed to the Airport proper is barricaded and cannot be easily accessed from the Apapa/Oshodi Expressway.

 

It is disheartening that almost two months after that fatal explosion and inferno no work has started on the bridge to re-certify, repair and open it up for usage again. A trip to the road and indeed the scene of the accident few days ago showed that no work has started there.

Regrettably no sign of any kind of assessment or commencement of work at all at the scene, rather what we see are blockages and barricades with heavy concrete both at the entrance of the bridge in front of the popular Ladipo market and the tail end of the bridge.

The implication of this is that vehicles coming from Apapa, Mile 2, Cele, and other major areas of Lagos cannot drive and link the International Airport Road and indeed the Muritala Mohammed International airport with ease as the bridge that connect them is blocked.

When we have cases like this what we lay men thought would have been done few days after the explosion is carrying out integrity test on the bridge to determine its suitability for usage or not.

After the integrity test and confirmation that the structural settings of the road was affected, the next thing will be commencement of repair and reconstruction work on the bridge in earnest to see that work on it is completed in record time. But like most Nigerian problem that initial expedited action has not been done or seemed to have been carried out.

And what do we have now, a situation that has created a multifarious monsters and problems to users of that particular portion of the road. And one of the problems are vehicles taking one way on the narrow link bridge that link airport road t to the boisterous and ever busy Oshodi.

Most times this one way taking cause serious traffic gridlock for those going to Oshodi from Airport road. Not only that there are risks of accidents occasioned by head on collision and other attendant hazards and inconveniences.

 

While we are at this another monster has been created by this unending closure of the bridge leading to International Airport from Apapa/Oshodi is the activities of LATSMA, Police, Lagos state task force and other law enforcement agents.

 

 

In a bid to curtail and control motorists taking one way they now cash in on the situation to embark on massive extortions, overzealousness and recklessness. These days you see supposedly law enforcement agents openly collecting money, physically assaulting and towing vehicles of offenders of the one way taking.

 

The most grueling aspect of their conduct is the brazenness they employ in enforcing this.

 

Eye witness accounts have it on good authority that they fiercely pursue erring motorists and in some cases block the road in such a manner lives are put at risk. Motor cycle riders popularly referred as Okada are not spared of this blood chilling and gruesome escapades of these law enforcement agents.

 

On several occasions I have witnessed them brazenly pursue motorcyclists recklessly, block them at the middle of the road not minding on coming vehicles that could cause fatal accidents.

 

Of course on some of these occasions I normally confront the officers who may not have any tangible reason to give for their acts only that one could deduce a hidden pecuniary interest of what they could get from the offending motorist.

 

The most annoying aspect of all these acts is the nepotism, favouritism and one sidedness they employ in carrying out the enforcement of the law against one way.

 

Most times you see them collect money from yellow Danfo drivers and other cooperating motorists. They now guard them through at the consternation of on lookers and other motorists coming from Airport road end of the road.

 

This same barbarism and one sidedness is also extended to ‘very important personalities (VIPs) like the military, police, custom officers and others as they are given lee way to drive pass the one way enroute the international airport road without molestation, harassment or arrest of any kind.

 

 

This is wrong! If there is to be clamp down the one way taking it should be total and enforced to the letter.

 

For instance if Lagos state Governor Babajide Sanwolu has an important appointment or a flight to catch and misses the flight as result of the blocked bridge it will send signals to those concerned to expedite action on the repairs of the bridge.

 

In as much there is wide condemnation of taking one way because of its attendant and disastrous consequences one could not fathom out the fate of motorists who may be in a haste to catch up a flight or appointment and they need to climb the closed bridge for them to access the airport or their preferred destinations.

 

They may end up missing the flight as the only link bridge to the airport from Apapa/Oshodi road is blocked. For crying out this is the road that comes all the way from the nation’s foremost seaports, the Tincan and Apapa ports and activities are usually on the upscale on the route, yet the connecting bridge to the airport road is blocked and for several months now.

 

The other option is for motorists to pass through Oshodi to Agege motor road and then connect back to Oshodi to link Airport road. These routes are usually hellish and blocked with serious traffic that in all fairness is no alternative at all.

 

Since occurrences of petrol tanker explosions and other incidents that may cause blockage of the road is inevitable these days the best the authorities and managers of our roads would have done is to provide alternative road on the very first day that accident happened on that very all important linkage bridge.

 

This would have saved Lagosians and motorists the horrendous nightmare they are daily passing through since the blockage of the bridge.

It is pertinent to point out here that if the activities of LATSMA, Police , Lagos State Task Force and other Law enforcement agents operating at the under bridge of Muritala Mohammed International Airport Road is not check mated and the bridge opened up for usage by motorists sooner or later it will cause serious fatalities of unimaginable proportions. I foresee accidents and loss lives if they continue with the way they carry out their activities.

 

Just like Nigerians watched a viral video few days ago where a motorist plying one way knocked a police officer inside a carnal while trying to evade arrest by LASTMA and police, that will be a child’s play if nothing is done as the horrendous display daily by these law enforcement agents on top of the bridge connecting airport to Oshodi are even more daring and grievous! But to resolve this problem once and for all is for the authorities to as a matter of national urgency embark on speedy recertification, rectification, reconstruction and opening up the bridge for use by motorists.

 

Granted that there are technicalities involved in resolving this kind of damage but the least we expect is to see commencement of work and activities on the link bridge. By now people are supposed to have started seeing sign posts, equipment, public relations messages and in fact actual repair works on the bridge.

But a casual visit to scene of the accident and the link bridge will show that there is no iota of human and material activities in the name of survey work, testing or repairs on the bridge and we are asking for how long will this continue! Nigerians are aghast why things play out like this in our country that very important assignments are left unattended until greater calamity is harvested.

 

For a very crucial link bridge to the nation’s gate way, the Muritala Mohammed international and also connect the nation’s cash cow, the Apapa and Tincan Sea ports with its attendant logistics and vehicular traffic not attended to and repaired several weeks after the fire incident remains a very sour taste to the mouth.

 

With this delay and gross negligence a lot of man hours, resources and inconveniences have been suffered and an immediate action needs to be put in motion to see that the bridge is back to order by authorities concerned. Nigerians cannot continue to suffer when the government can simply do the needful.

 

Are those in power telling us that if it’s a bridge that President Buhari, governors, senators ply daily to link to their various destinations and it is thus affected that it will be left unattended for such a long length of time.

 

The least that Nigerians demand is the immediate commencement of work on the bridge with a set timeline when the repair works will be concluded and the bridge reopened for usage again.

 

Like earlier alluded if this bridge is not quickly repaired and opened up and the activities of some of these unscrupulous law enforcement agents operating to enforce one way taking law enroute airport road a major disaster of high magnitude may be imminent.

 

Like they say a stitch in time saves a lot. Enough of this crass negligence and irresponsibility that is negatively impacting on the lives, property and psyche of Nigerians who have one or two things to do with link bridge and Lagos international airport on a daily basis that has been barricaded for months now.

Austine Uche-Ejeke, Publisher/Editor-In-Chief Newspapers and Public Affairs Analyst wrote vide eustineuche@yahoo.com

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