The Lagos Fourth Mainland Bridge

Written by the Editorial board of The Guardian Newspaper

The present Lagos transportation system is unarguably chaotic but it is comforting that a 14-year-old dream targeted at relieving intra-state travel pains is coming to reality. With the proposed 38 kilometre-long Fourth Mainland Bridge which will also complement the rapidly expanding industrial activities in the Eti Osa-Lekki-Epe corridor of the state, life should be better for Lagosians. The recent endorsement of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the government, the consortium of consultants and investors including Africa Finance Corporation, J.P. Morgan Nigeria, Visible Assets Limited and Access Bank is a firm expression of commitment of the major stakeholders to delivery, hopefully in 36 months as projected.

This is a milestone for Lagos in its bid to live up to its status as West Africa’s business hub and to adequately plan for its ballooning population, at present estimated at 21 million.  Coming especially at a challenging time like this for the Nigerian economy, it is a laudable move. This pure economic decision is the stuff a thinking and forward-looking, service-oriented government is made of and it is hoped that none of the parties would renege on the agreement for any reason.

Significantly too, the construction of the long-span facility is without the financial support of the Federal Government, the first time in the state’s history of embarking on gigantic projects as that. Apart from the project conception as a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) and Public, Private, Partnership (PPP) initiative, it shows the level of confidence of investors in the Lagos economy. It is a venture worth emulating by a few more states with the capacity to attract such investments.

Governor Akinwumi Ambode said the N844 billion project is a win-win one for all investors. The governor who signed on behalf of the state is right but the state will be a greater beneficiary in that framework on the long term. “The significance of the bridge will be fully appreciated if we can imagine Lagos of today without Third Mainland Bridge” due to the phenomenal growth the state has experienced.

A knowledge of the geography of the state will reveal that with eight interchanges, the proposed bridge would facilitate effective interconnectivity in line with the vision of the backers. The proposed alignment takes care of Lekki, Langbasa and Baiyeku towns along the shoreline of the Lagos Lagoon estuaries through Igbogbo River basin, crossing the lagoon estuaries to Itamaga area of Ikorodu. Inside Ikorodu, the structure crosses the Itoikin and Ikorodu-Sagamu roads to connect Ojodu-Berger end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

Of particular interest is the provision for a generous median to accommodate a future carriageway expansion from the proposed four each way and also a light rail facility. The generous provision for shoulders is equally a plus. Security and ambulance points and other value add-ons, though not mentioned, are believed to have been incorporated in the general planning. A solid maintenance programme by the organisers also ought to be perfected in the plans.

All the credit for the project should also go to past administrations in the state. Its realisation now only reaffirms that government is a continuum and that the overall interest of the people is paramount irrespective of who is in office at any given time.

Also, against the backdrop of the initial controversy generated by the tolling of the modern suspended bridge linking Ikoyi and Victoria Island/Lekki axis and the completed section of the Lekki-Epe Expressway, the state government did well to put residents on notice that use of the Fourth bridge would not come for free as it would utilise “state of the art tolling system.”

Lagos’ residents, especially indigenes, will therefore, do well to fully cooperate with the government and the construction firms on this grand project. The huge financial outlay of the project notwithstanding, the benefits will definitely outweigh cost in terms of travel time reduction while traffic volume on chaotic routes into and out of the Island will thin down considerably. Jobs provision also gets a boost. Of course, Lagos will have the privilege of reverting to ownership after the 40-year concession period.

Lagos is no doubt becoming a model in infrastructure provision in the country and the state must continually strive to maintain its status as the Centre of Excellence.

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