Three weeks into the partial closure of the Third Mainland Bridge, several commuters have said traffic situation on the bridge is ‘bearable’ as there is no significant difference in traffic before and during the maintenance of the bridge.
A PREMIUM TIMES’ reporter who took a tour from the mainland to Lagos Island using the alternative routes and Third Mainland Bridge observed a relatively steady movement of traffic on both routes.
While many factors are responsible for travel time, several Lagosians interviewed by PREMIUM TIMES said they have not been experiencing difficulties as a result of the closure.
Kabir Olawale, a commuter who works at Ikoyi and commutes from Ikeja, said his work has not been affected in any way and traffic situation remains normal when heading to the island and when returning.
“Since it is not a total closure, but a partial one, I can say things are still normal, I still use the same time I’ve been using before now on the road, sometimes even shorter. Also, I still take the Third mainland every time I need to go to the island, so, there have been no changes,” he said.
Another commuter said the partial closure of the bridge requires strategic planning for those that have a business on the island and want to use the bridge.
“I have not been affected because I plan my time very well. If I want to go to the island from the Oworonshoki, I make sure I go before 12noon when the bridge will be closed, and if I’m coming to Oworonshoki from the island, I want till 1 pm when the bridge will be open,” she said.
Third Mainland Bridge Closure
The federal government on July 24, partially closed the Third Mainland Bridge for rehabilitation. The 11.8 kilometres bridge is the busiest bridge in Lagos with thousands of vehicles plying the bridge daily.
The partial closure of the bridge, when announced, ignited fears of more traffic in Lagosians as alternative routes were provided by the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation.
The partial closure which will last for six months has two phases of diversion, the first diversion is between 12:00 am to 12:00 pm during which the road will be opened for movements inwards Lagos island, while the second diversion is between 1:00 pm to 12:00 am which will open traffic from Lagos Island inward Oworonshoki.
Prior to the closure of the bridge, the federal government and the Lagos State government assured commuters of minimal inconveniences, saying vehicular movement on the bridge will only experience a 25 per cent disruption.
Minimal Traffic – Commuters
Several commuters interviewed by PREMIUM TIMES said they experience minimal to normal traffic since the closure of the bridge.
The closure, which was also envisaged to bring about an increase in transport fare due to longer travel hours, was not so, as many commuters said their transportation cost remain relatively the same, asides from the general increase brought by COVID-19.
Bimbo Adepoju, a shop owner at Ikoyi, said she was surprised to see that traffic has not gone out of hand.
“When they first closed the bride, I stayed at home for a few days because I was afraid of terrible traffic. To my surprise, my friends told me things were still normal, I experienced it myself and I resumed going to my shop,” Mrs Adepoju said.
She added that several factors contribute to the seeming normalcy commuters are enjoying.
“You know many people are still working from home, schools, churches, and mosques have also not resumed fully. When things go back to normal, we can be certain of unbearable traffic,” she said.
Amos Jude, another commuter who plies the bridge three times a week said he has not been affected by the traffic situation because he leaves home as early as possible and comes back before the peak period.
“You know we are still battling the pandemic, so many workplaces have not resumed fully, I can say traffic is going steady for now,” he said.
‘Factors aiding traffic’
Olajide Oduyoye, the General Manager of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency(LASTMA), said there are many factors responsible for traffic the situation in Lagos, most especially on the third mainland bridge.
The LASTMA boss said although the partial closure comes with certain side effects, the prompt notification on the closure of the bridge prepared many Lagosians towards using alternative routes.
“The alternative routes have traffic that uses them before the closure and since more traffic are joining them, the traffic situation is likely to be compounded, but Lagosians are left with no choice,” he said.
When asked about the traffic situation on the bridge since the closure, the LASTMA boss said no traffic count has been done yet and it is difficult to give an exact statement.
“Normally, what we have is the queue on the bridge telling back very heavily, but since the bridge closure has happened, that hasn’t been the case.
“So many factors are responsible for this, such as many Lagosians changing their commuting and work process by staying at home and working from home due to COVID-19.
“If you go to many high-brow areas, you won’t see so much traffic because people are still scared. Some people are still abroad too,” Mr Oduyoye said.
He added that school closure and the partial reopening of churches, mosques, clubs and event centres are other contributing factors to the present traffic situation.
Mr Oduyoye said once school opens and all other activities resume fully, the traffic on the road will double and Lagosians should expect compounded traffic.
’25 per cent of traffic affected’
Olusegun Ogungbemide, the Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) told PREMIUM TIMES that only 25 per cent of the normal traffic of the Third mainland bridge is affected by the closure.
“The partial closure made provision for 75 per cent of all the natural traffic that makes use of the third mainland bridge. Judging from that, we know it is not going to be as bad as many people were envisaging.
“The operation started on July 24 and prior to this time, a series of meetings were held with all the stakeholders, including the Lagos state government and all security agents and transport unions in Lagos state.”
Mr Ogungbemide said from 12 midnight to 12 midday, the bridge is accessible to people going to the island from Oworonshoki, while from 1 pm to 12midnight, the bridge is opened for movement inward Oworonshoki.
The FRSC Commander said the section of the bridge currently undergoing repairs is Adeniji Adele to Adekunle which is 3.5 kilometres out of the 11.8 kilometres. This is the only side of the bridge prone to traffic, he said.
“I can authoritatively say that only 25 per cent of the normal traffic of the third mainland bridge that is affected by the closure,” he added.