Nigeria: danger looms on Carter bridge


Danger may not be over yet for Lagosians, despite the rehabilitation of the Third Mainland Bridge, as two other major bridges leading into Lagos Island, Eko and Carter bridges, may collapse soon except measures are taken urgently.

Here we report the news published Kayode Ogundamisi on Facebook.

A commissioned survey conducted by P.M.News on all bridges in Lagos revealed that the main pillars supporting both Eko and Carter bridges have been eaten up by erosion and affected by the activities of some Lagosians doing business under the bridges.

P.M.News findings revealed that the pillars supporting the bridges under the sea are hanging precariously, as they have been detached from the iron trunks buried in the sea.

This detachment, P.M.News gathered, was caused by corrosion of the trunks by the buffeting sea waves.

A trip by our reporters in a chartered boat round the Lagos Lagoon revealed that most of the pillars supporting the bridges are hanging precariously, with some of the valves detached from the pillars. A lot of holes could also be seen underneath the bridges.

Investigations further show that one of the major causes of the shrinking of the trunks buried in the sea, is the recent sandfilling of some areas like the Adeniji Adele-BRF Bus Stop and other areas within the Lagos metropolis.

The worst hit is the Carter Bridge. Built in 1960, the bridge is gradually giving way, and may collapse soon if nothing is done to rehabilitate it, a construction expert warned.

Apart from the dilapidation of the bridges, sandfilling is also a major worry on the waterways because it had resulted in canoes or ships capsizing.

A water transportation expert, who was on the boat cruise, warned that water accidents would continue if the waterways are not re-channelled.

He described the current state of the bridges as “very alarming.”

The water bridges in Lagos state are indeed fatigued and in deteriorating conditions, this P.M.News can reliably report.

Recently, repair works were carried out on the Third Mainland Bridge. The 11.9-Kilometre bridge completed by Julius Berger Plc in 1990 during the Ibrahim Babangida-led military junta had, until the repairs, been deprived of maintenance.

Not until the Lagos chapter of the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) raised the alarm about vibrations on the surface of the 18-year-old bridge, that a federal government team came to examine it, and subsequently prompted the recent repairs.

The P.M.News team, on a mission on the Lagos Lagoon, recently, to examine the bridges, discovered that apart from the Third Mainland Bridge, others like, Falomo, Eko, and Carter bridges need urgent repairs. In fact, considering their decrepit state they are disasters waiting to happen.

For instance, P.M.News findings showed that the steel railings and the pipes on the Eko Bridge have become rusted and no longer serving any purpose to the bridge. A portion on one side of the bridge has sunk even as motorists still ply it. Also, there is a part whose railings have been cut off obviously by miscreants for brisk money. This is in addition to heaps of refuse on its pile caps.

P.M.News also discovered that the Carter Bridge, constructed during Independence, is the worst of all the bridges running across the Lagos Lagoon. The cables and pipes lining the bridge have shifted from their original positions and are protruding dangerously. The surface of the bridge, viewed from under, has worn out thus manifesting terrible vibrations.

This newspaper further discovered that there is a sizeable hole occupying part of the bridge with a tyre and several naked cables dangling and the parapets and columns have become weak.

An expert, who was on the boat cruise around the Lagoon, said that the structural tiredness of the bridge’s columns causes erosion on that portion of the bridge whenever there is a tidal wave. A close examination also showed that the pile caps of the Falomo bridge have undergone structural deterioration as most of them have cracked.

Fishermen and several other people who ply their trade around the area have made the bridge’s pile caps their homes, cooking and sleeping on them. They also use them to sun-dry their clothes. An outer part of the bridge has been inhabited by hoodlums who have turned it to an hemp-smoking base.

P.M.News checks also revealed that the columns of the Carter bridge have been taken over by shrubs. A lot of people were seen sitting on its railings thereby further contributing to the continual weakness of the surface, columns and pile caps. The sorry state of the bridges shows there is an urgent need for an underwater study of all the Lagos water bridges so that rehabilitation works could commence on them in order to avert any danger as recorded on the Ijora bridge. Federal Controller of Works, Engineer Tunde Ekunsunmi, said his ministry was aware of the problems, and that recommendations have been made to the Minister of Works, Abuja, on this.

He blamed the poor state of the bridges on lack of fund, adding that the money to be used to effect repairs on most of the bridges were held up in this year’s budget, whose passage was delayed. Commenting on the state of the bridges, Professor of Structural Engineering, Obanisola M. Sadiq, of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), stressed that vibrations on bridges are normal, adding that it only becomes dangerous when the vibrations become noticeable.

Said he: “Danger looms when the frequency is less than the external loads being applied on it.” He further said that some pilecaps may not be constructed to run deep in water since what is needed is a stable region having achieved the required pile length, adding “once that is achieved, it doesn’t matter whether one pile cap is 30 metres and another is 45 metres deep.”

The professor, however, passed a “vote of no confidence” on bridges whose pilecaps have cracked or broken, expressing fear over the collapse of such bridges. Sadiq also spoke to P.M.News concerning the recent repairs on the Third Mainland Bridge saying: “the dislocation on the bridge couldn’t have occurred in one fell swoop, but gradually.

“Hence they ought to have been gradually corrected before now. But I understand that expertise and cost may have caused the delay in repair.” According to the professor, the duration for the maintenance of a bridge should be frequent, advising that a surveillance team must be set up to continually monitor its state. The engineer also dismissed as untrue, reports by a section of the media that activities of mine diggers caused the dislocation on the Third Mainland Bridge.

By Lanre Babalola, Ayo Lawal & Gbenga Adeniji

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