GOVERNOR Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State on Wednesday commissioned the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge, restating that the primary objective in its conception and delivery was to provide a transport infrastructure and strategic traffic management solution aimed at easing traffic congestion in the area.
The governor, who spoke at a colourful and impressive commissioning event which took place on the new bridge, explained that the state government has done something similar in Okota with the Okota-Itire Link Bridge which eased traffic connectivity for seven local governments as well as in the Falomo area with the Falomo Ramp.
According to Fashola, the initiative among others sit very well with the commitment of the state government to improve service delivery and aligns logically with the commitment of the administration to PATH, which is the acronym for Power, Agriculture, Transportation and Housing.
“This is why similar bridge works are being undertaken in Agiliti in the Mile 12 area, to connect communities that have been separated by water for forever. This is why a similar project is being executed in Ajao-Ejigbo area with the construction of a link bridge and road to connect another area separated by the Ejigbo canal from time immemorial”.
“It is the same reason for a similar project , a four lane bridge in Isheri-Ijegun –Isolo area, to provide crossing over water, connect separated communities; and reduce journey times and the associated economic and social costs,” he explained.
The governor stated that the present administration is working ceaselessly to start the commencement of the 4th Mainland Bridge, adding that the state has made a lot of progress to soon commence an alternative model of crossing the Lagoon from Lekki to Ikorodu with the completion of the Ipakodo and Badore Ferry Terminals.
“All of these will bring a lot of relief during the period of the building of the 4th Mainland Bridge as it will provide choice after its completion. All of these fit very squarely within our inter-modal transport plan of connectivity of rail, ferries and vehicles. Others cities such as London and Cairo have 33 bridges on the River Thames and five bridges on the River Nile respectively,” he added.
“We expect therefore that from today, the people of Lekki, who have no business in Victoria Island, will not need to go on to Ozumba Mbadiwe in order to cross to the Mainland. In the event that they do, it will not be because they have no alternatives, it will be because they made a choice,” he stressed.
He gave a commitment that in the future, the government intends to complete the road from the Third Roundabout through Admiralty Way to provide a choice and access to commuters from Ajah who are heading to the Mainland.
The governor said in this way, the state expects to finally reduce the bottle neck in Victoria Island, Ozumba Mbadiwe and its immediate environs that is caused by a lack of choice.
Fashola also dispelled the thinking that the commissioning of the bridge was being hampered by a court action which was initiated for political reasons, saying “No court action or order has prevented us from opening this bridge and we are vigorously defending the court action that was initiated against this bridge. I am convinced that the judicial arm of government remains alive to its developmental responsibilities.
“While the courts cannot prevent people from initiating all sorts of actions, I believe our courts will appropriately use their powers to protect the majority of citizens from the reprobate conduct of a few mischief makers, and their professional advisers,” the governor maintained.
Fashola also acknowledged the role played by former President, the late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, in the process that led to the conception of the bridge, saying when he went to Abuja to show the design of the Bridge to the former President at the height of the dispute between the Federal Government and Lagos State Government over some Ikoyi properties, he gave his outright blessings for the release of some of the properties which are federally owned and were impeding the project.
He said despite the fact that there was no federal funding for the project; the Ikoyi- Lekki Link Bridge is a clear evidence of what the federal might can achieve, depending on whether the person who exercises authority chooses to be a politician or a statesman.
He also gave kudos to other citizens who had adjoining properties and all of whom agreed to voluntarily relocate their fences and provide part of their premises as works yards for the project and also mentioned the role played by the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure under Ganiyu Johnson, an engineer, when the project started and Dr Obafemi Hamzat who supervised it till completion.
Fashola also acknowledged the role played by the Lands Bureau in resolving land and compensation issues arising from the project as well as other ministries, departments and agencies
While congratulating the commuters who come to Lekki or pass through Lekki and Victoria Island on a daily basis for the new transport asset of choice, he charged them to be reminded that they are the real owners of the Bridge because they would likely use it more.
“As I have often said, the location of a public infrastructure in any area does not confer ownership on that area. Those who live in such communities are only trustees of the property for all citizens from all parts of Lagos who may choose to use the public infrastructure if they comply with the regulations for use,” he said.
He informed that there would be restriction on some types of vehicles from using the bridge, such as commercial motorcycles (Okada), tricycles (Keke Marwa), commercial buses including Danfos and high Capacity Buses (i.e commercial buses exceeding a maximum seating capacity of 26) and heavy duty trucks, articulated trucks, lorries and such others
Fashola also informed that users of the bridge would have to pay a toll each way with salon cars paying N250, motorcycles with 200cc capacity and above N100, mini-vans, SUVs and light Pick-Up trucks N300 while non-commercial buses with a maximum seating capacity of 26 persons will pay N400 each way.
The governor informed that before the opening ceremony, the state government had concluded trial runs on the bridge by the issuance of passes to citizens to enable government study how the toll system works and how traffic discharges.
He said the government will continue to monitor it and make changes as things evolve, adding that it is expected that there will be a lot of tourist passengers who will use the bridge for the novelty and experience while government will wait till all the excitement dissipates before the studies are concluded.
He added that to ensure that the full savings in journey time is experienced by commuters; the state is racing to conclude the reconstruction of Glover Road later in the year to provide another.
Earlier in his welcome address, Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, said the bridge was conceived in 2008 as a palpable solution to the bottleneck that characterised the Ikoyi/Victoria Island axis of the state.
He added that the new bridge has been designed to service and provide access road around the Elegushi Roundabout and Lekki Phase 1 with the aesthetically savvy bridge providing the standard megacity compliant facility and serving as a strategic bypass along the Falomo Bridge and Alfred Rewane, Independence Bridge and Ahmadu Bello Way.
He urged everyone to take ownership for the bridge so that all forms of abuse are prevented and emphasised that trading on the bridge will not be allowed.
Managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Mr Wolfgang Goetsch, said the bridge, which is the first cable stayed bridge in West Africa, was planned and designed by Julius Berger engineers in Germany and Nigeria, with additional technical support from the engineering and service group – Bilfinger.
He thanked the Lagos State Government for the confidence and trust she has shown to Julius Berger, adding that the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge is a unique testament to the shared goals of both the state government and Julius Berger for the development of Lagos and Nigeria.
The governor later unveiled the commemorative plaque and cut the tape to formally hand over the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge at the event which also featured cultural displays by the state’s Standing Troupe.
In an interview with newsmen at the ceremony, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, said the example of Fashola in governance is an example of commitment, responsibility and kindness in terms of getting the lives of people working for them,
While describing the successful completion of the bridge as a very rare achievement, Ahmed congratulated Lagosians for having the kind of leadership that will move the state to the next level of governance in Nigeria.
Prominent among those who witnessed the event were the First Lady, Dame Emmanuella Abimbola Fashola, Deputy Governor, Hon (Mrs) Adejoke Orelope- Adefulire, first civilian governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, first Military Governor, Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson (rtd), members of the State Executive Council including the Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructure, Engineer Ganiyu Johnson, the Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial district, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, Chairman of the House of Assembly Committee on Works and Infrastructure, Hon Rotimi Olowo, Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu 1, traditional rulers and other dignitaries.