Workers and passengers are in for a tough time as the government commences the repairs of the Third Mainland Bridge.
On Sunday when the bridge was blocked to enable repairs to begin, many passengers and motorists groaned under gridlock.
There was gridlock from Charly Boy Bus Stop to Anthony. The situation was the same on the Ikorodu Road where hours of traffic jam was experienced.
Some passengers also expressed the fear that commercial drivers would cash in on the situation to hike their fare.
At the Ikeja Motor Park where buses load passengers to Obalende on the Lagos Island, a driver, who declined to give his name said the traffic situation in the coming days would determine fares.
A passenger, Mr. Johnson Iloke, said, “We all know that there is no way the repairs would not cause serious traffic problems. But we can only hope that the commercial bus drivers would be humane in whatever increase they will add to fares.
“The problem with increase in fares is that they may not reduce it even after the repairs on the bridge are concluded.”
In Ogba, a passenger in a bus heading to CMS, Mrs. Uju Okechukwu, said an increase in fares, would adversely affect her business.
She said, “I have a shop at CMS and I go there from Ogba every day. There is no way an increase in fares would not affect my business.
“I am not saying they should not repair the bridge but we all know commercial bus drivers. They can be wicked when it comes to issues like this.”
Mr. Onyebuchi Ejiogu who works on the Island said the closure would surely create some inconveniences.
However, he said the repairs were long overdue since it had taken a long time since major repair work on the bridge was carried out.
“No doubt, the closure will cause some inconveniences. I even think the repairs are coming too late. It is better we endure now than to allow it to deteriorate before they are carried out. There should be proper enforcement of traffic rules on the alternative routes to reduce the anticipated gridlock,” Ejiogu said.
A motorist, Uche Ochinawata, urged the government to ensure that the repairs were enduring.
He urged motorists to avoid using their vehicles all the time to help ease the traffic jams which the closure would cause.
He, however, appealed to commercial bus drivers and okada riders not to cash in on the situation to charge passengers exorbitantly.
“The repairs are for the benefit of all of us. We hope the government would ensure that the right materials are used. May I also urge commercial bus operators not to see the situation as an opportunity to rip the passengers off,” Ochinawata said.
At Obalende Motor Park, passengers were also concerned about a possible increase in fares.
A passenger, who works as a clerk in a store on Lagos Island, Gbenga Ogunfowokan, said, “I live in Ketu, so you can imagine what kind of apprehension people like me have about these repairs of the bridge.
“The traffic snarl it will cause is one problem. But the excesses of commercial drivers shuttling the mainland and the island is another big problem for us.
“I think it is necessary for government to caution them against exploiting passengers unnecessarily.”
On Sunday, our correspondents noticed that the lane of the Third Mainland Bridge leading to Lagos Island had been blocked but motorists were still able to use the lane leading to the mainland.
It was also noticed that few equipment of the Federal Ministry of Works had been mobilised to the site
Traffic going to Lagos Island from the mainland was diverted at Iyana Oworonsoki to the Anthony interchange into the Ikorodu Road and onwards to Eko Bridge.
The Lagos State Government had said between midnight and noon, vehicles from Oworonsoki to Ikeja/Toll gate/Ikorodu Road end of the bridge would have access to the bridge towards Lagos Island.
A statement by the state Commissioner for Transport, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, had said, “Vehicles from the Lagos end of the bridge (from Obalende, Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lekki) will be diverted from the Third Mainland Bridge at Adeniji Adele Interchange towards Carter Bridge to link Iddo interchange.
“Between 12 noon and 12 midnight, vehicles approaching from Oworonshoki and Ikeja/Toll gate/Ikorodu Road end of the bridge will be diverted at Oworonshoki Interchange to Ikorodu Road (via Anthony interchange) to Funsho Williams Avenue to Eko Bridge and on.