Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has given a one-month notice extension to those encroaching underneath the Third Mainland Bridge to vacate the Right of Way (RoW).
While inspecting the bridge and other road projects in Lagos State on Saturday, Fashola warned that the encroachers risk forceful eviction after the extension.
He also gave immediate vacation order to mechanics, artisans, businesses and one advertising company constructing a gantry on the RoW of the bridge.
The minister noted that an initial vacation order served on various businesses under the bridge had lapsed.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the minister, on arrival under the bridge, sensitised block moulders and other artisans on the dangers their activities posed to the infrastructure.
However, leaders of the block moulders and mechanics appealed to the Minister for an extension to enable them to sell off their goods and move out of the place.
He advised Mr Jacob Fayehun, Lagos State Chairman of the National Automobile Technicians Association, to ensure that the vehicles were not returned to the RoW of the bridge.
Consenting, Fashola directed the leader of the Lagos State Task Force on eviction enforcement to release all the defaulting vehicles towed away “unconditionally’’ to the mechanics.
He also yielded to the appeal of Mr Olasukanmi Ismail, Chairman of the Block Makers Association to sell-off produced blocks within the extended period before vacating the area.
The minister was, however, furious with a communication company constructing a billboard gantry on the Adeniji end of the bridge, without approval.
Fashola ordered the workers constructing the gantry to close the site and leave to avert legal action.
He advised the foreman to ask the owner of the communication company to resolve the permit issues with the Federal Ministry of Works in Lagos.
He stressed the need to recover the RoW to save the bridge from danger and also prevent “illegal activities that are breeding ground for crimes.
“The entire right of way of the bridge is not just the top of the bridge but all of the adjoining land that it is sitting on, which was acquired.
“By the Federal Highways Act, all of these are under the control of the ministry in charge of public works.
“So, any activity on this type of land is a violation of the law if you don’t have approval,’’ the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes the minister as saying.
Speaking on encroachment on the Iganmu Bridge being used by petroleum tankers as sales depots, Fashola said they had earlier been removed, but they returned and solicited media support to solve the problem.
He said media support toward creating awareness would elicit voluntary compliance which was a better measure toward taming the problem.
“What remains to be done on the bridge is a lot of under-water works, a lot of pile repairs and a lot of concrete repairs some of which may be unseen by those just driving through,’’ he said.
The minister hinted that the rehabilitation of the bridge “is part of the National Infrastructure Maintenance Programme to repair bridges nationwide’’.
Also speaking, Mr Emmanuel Adeoye, Director, Highway Bridges and Design said that work on the “superstructure” that is, top of the bridge had been completed but repairs underneath the bridge would continue for nine months.
“We intend to work on the piles that are carrying the bridge.
“We have the piles, the pile caps and then we have the piers.
“We have identified areas where there are defects and we are going to do a lot of substructures works under the water,’’ he said.
NAN reports that the 11.8km third mainland bridge is the longest of the three bridges connecting Lagos Island with the Mainland.
The bridge was reopened to traffic on Feb. 27, after undergoing another round of repairs from July 2019.
The bridge began from Oworonshoki, linked to the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, ending at the Adeniji Adele Interchange on Lagos Island.
Constructed in 1990, the bridge was adjudged as the longest in Africa until 1996 when a 20.5km “6th October Bridge” in Cairo, Egypt was completed. (NAN)