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FG  gives Apongbon traders one month to relocate



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From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja

Federal Government has given the business owners operating under the Apongbon section of Eko Bridge one month to relocate.

This will enable  the government   rehabilitate the Apongbon section of Eko  Bridge.

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Speaking with some businessmen and women operating  under the bridge, Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, promised that the damage to the bridge would soon be addressed.

He said that what happened at Apongbon section of Eko Bridge was an eye opener and government would not want a repeat of the incident.

“We are building new bridges and maintaining some old ones.  So,  it will not be right to continue to allow you people to do business here as usual. Your businesses here constitute a threat and government wants you people to leave”, the Minister said,  assuring commuters on the Eko Bridge that government was working hard to mitigate their inconveniences while the rehabilitation work lasts.

Fashola recalled that Eko Bridge was built in 1975 and  that it serves as a strategic link between the Island and Mainland areas of Lagos.

The minister  who said emergency repair work has already commenced on the bridge including the damaged section, cited its strategic importance to Lagosians as a  reason for the expediency.

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On the burnt section of Eko Bridge at Apongbon , the Minister, pointed out that the repair work needs planning.

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“I have instructed the ministry’s engineers to carry out a  comprehensive assessment of repairs we need to carry out to know what it will cost government” he said, explaining  that the cost was not in the 2022 Budget because nobody planned for it.

Earlier, while delivering his welcome address, the Director of Highway Bridges and Design,  Engineer Oluropo Oyetade, said that the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing was supervising 1732 bridges across Nigeria adding that Lagos State, with105, ranked fourth after Taraba, Niger and Cross River.

He said that out of that number, government has intervened in 23, with 10 completed, 11 ongoing and new contracts awarded for Carter and Iganmu bridges in the 2022 Budget.

According to the Director, the first phase of the emergency repair of Eko Bridge was carried out in June 2020, during which another set of defects were noticed. This led to another contract award for Phase II in September 2020 during which more defects were detected.

“The  minister then directed for a holistic review of the whole bridge. This took all directors of highways months to accomplish and that culminated in the award of a comprehensive maintenance of Eko Bridge in February 2022” he said.

In his remarks, the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Mr. Olowoshago Kamal, promised collaboration with the Federal Government for speedy completion of the rehabilitation works.

While expressing concern on how to evict traders in a popular fish market and truck drivers who have occupied the under bridges, chairperson of Apapa Local Government, Mrs. Idowu Shobanjo, said that the traders and the truck operators were insisting on remaining under the bridges and on the  roads adding that they anchored their insistence on alleged promises the state government made to them.

In a statement, the Deputy Director,(Press & Public Relations), Mr Stephen Kilebi, said that several business activities including mechanic workshops, ram market, welder workshops, selling of other various commodities were going on as at the time the minister and his team visited the under bridges.