Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, on Monday made clarifications as to the planned closure of the third main land bridge in Lagos.
Speaking on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, the minister explained that the period of closure was three days and not 27 months as being reported.
“I think somebody mistook the date 27th of July for 27 months, I don’t know how that came about but there was a signed statement from my office and it didn’t contain 27 months”, he said.
He said the 3-day closure will enable the contractors assess the true state of the road, after which repair works will commence by the end of the year or beginning of 2019.
The minister also noted that the closure would have come much earlier, but the government decided to wait until schools begin to go on vacation, in order to reduce the amount of traffic on the roads.
“The statement we put out was that it was going to be closed for 3 days, from the 27th of July.
“We were torn between maintenance and safety and people’s convenience but essentially, the first three days at the end of this month as issued in our press statement, will be for investigative work to be conducted to assess the current condition.
“There is a procurement for maintenance that has been approved but between that time and now, some things may have changed so we wanted to do an examination again just to be sure that there has been no material deterioration beyond what we procured.
“After that, our engineers and contracting firms will then lay out the plan of works.
“Some of the equipment and materials have to be imported, either later in the year or early next year, then we will be able to start the repair.
“That will imminently compel some closure as we have had in the past when I was governor. We closed it for about 12 weeks but (this time) we will try to reduce the period of closure as much as possible,” he said.
There have been fears that the bridge which was constructed 30 years ago, could collapse following the high vehicular traffic it records on a daily basis.
The minister explained that it was to address thise fears that the government considered it nexessary to close the bridge for investigation and subsequently, repairs.
According to him, the government years ago, had commenced the maintenance process but was unable to complete it because of cuts in the budget.
He said it has become highly necessary to do the needful now despite the inconvenience it might cause.
“This is a choice between people’s safety ultimately. That bridge must not collapse, and it needs maintenance. It has been built now for about 30 something years.
“If you recall, the maintenance that was done at the time wasn’t completed because the budget was cut. That was why they now did it in phases, so, we are back to what we should have done before.
“It is costing more, but it needs to be done,” he said.
On how long the repairs will take, Fashola said: “The first 3 days is what I can speak of now. At the end of this, we will come back to the members of the public and say to you definitively, based on the outcome of what we get from this assessment, how long it is going to take.
“I’m not in a position to say that now until that report comes back to us but what will happen at the end of July is 3 days”.