The Federal Government has said the closure of the Eko Bridge in Lagos for a comprehensive rehabilitation is to prevent any danger to the road users.
Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babajide Fashola, who inspected the bridge on Thursday, explained that while the Federal Government recognised the strategic importance of the bridge which links Lagos Mainland to Island, there was the need to prevent any form of danger to road users.
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This is just as the minister tasked the Lagos State Government to immediately remove all residents trading and living under bridges, lamenting that there had been a series of fire incidents at several under-bridges in the state occasioned by activities of residents trading and living under the bridges.
He listed the various bridges that had been gutted by fire to include two sections of Eko Bridge, Marine Bridge at Apapa, Obalende, among others, describing the fire incident as one too many.
Eko Bridge is one of three bridges connecting Lagos Island to the Mainland and is the shortest of the three bridges linking Lagos Island to Mainland.
Daily Trust reports that two sections of the all-important bridge were shut down following a fire disaster under the bridge in 2021 and another six days ago.
The first section was around Apongbon while another section of it at Ijora Olopa under-bridge was gutted by fire.
Fashola, who inspected the ongoing reconstruction work being handled by Buildwell, alongside the state Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, stressed the need for the road users to bear with the government as efforts are ongoing to fix the bridge.
He said, “For the next few weeks and months, some people would be prevented from using the bridge.
“We want to see businesses, we want to see enterprises, we want to see trading. There are small businesses, we recognise that. But we don’t want to see trading that endangers everybody, trading that impairs the right of others to trade.”
Fashola asked the state government to put in place measures to stop any form of trading and habitation under the bridges.
He said, “We must as a people come to a common understanding that under bridges are not marketplaces. We have reached a point where the best words to describe it is tough love because if we do not show tough love, one day those columns are going to come down and they are going to kill people very extensively.
“I don’t want to be here burying people, taking mangled bodies under heavy concretes.
“We are reaching a point where we are telling the Lagos State Government now, you have our support, you have our encouragement and we will work side by side with you to remove all the residents who use Under Bridges as places of trading. They are not places of trading. You can’t be cooking there, you can’t be setting up manufacturing and assembling processes there and endangering not only your lives but also the lives of others. And as long as this fire happens, it disrupts everybody’s plan.
“We had one fire last year near the Guardian Apapa, we had one at Obalende. We had many in the past and we have two now on Eko Bridge. We had one at Apapa. It is just one fire too many.”
The deputy governor also lamented the activities of traders and people living under the bridges, saying the government would no longer tolerate the act.