Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) on May 29 commissioned the Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge. The architectural masterpiece, being the first cable/suspended bridge in Nigeria and the entire West Africa, is replete with aesthetic grandeur. The 1.38km bridge constructed by Julius Berger links Ikoyi-Alexander Street to Lekki-Admiralty Way. The grand construction has a price tag of N29 billion, which, though huge, is worth its while in view of its primary essence of easing traffic congestion in that ever busy strategic part of the country’s commercial nerve-centre.
Construction of the bridge commenced in October, 2008 and was completed and certified for use some weeks back. The engineering ingenuity is a plus to infrastructural yearnings of Lagosians and the nation, especially in the sphere of transportation and traffic management. The main bridge, ingrained in quality engineering, has a total length of 466m. The length of its Cable Bridge which is the suspended section is 170m and the height of its pyron is 87m from water level navigational requirement. The clearance average is 9m above high water level. The width of the bridge, which is the carriageway, is 8m by 2; its walkway is 2.0m by 2; road works at Ikoyi end is 338.7m while road works at the Lekki end is 311.5m.
The Lagos State government deserves commendation for this bold attempt geared towards solving the traffic gridlock between Lekki and Ikoyi.
However, we cannot feign ignorance that this laudable official initiative; especially that of ceding the place to a concessionaire has been accompanied by reservations by some members of the public who feel that tolling the bridge could be discriminatory. Some even argued that the toll of N300 is exorbitant.
Their concerns are genuine since we would not subscribe to any government’s idea that tends to price infrastructure out of people’s purse. After all the bridge, some would say, was constructed with the people’s money- for their own good and its use ought to be free, or at least reasonably within what the majority can afford. The truth, however, is that nothing good and qualitative comes free in contemporary times. There is a price for everything and that of bringing development, through this bridge, as epitomised by the prescribed toll, should be endured by the public in Lagos.
Moreover, the Lekki-Ikoyi axes are inhabited by well heeled members of the society who should be able to pay the toll. Also, the governor has restated that there are other routes for those who may find the toll too high since the use of the bridge is optional. If the bridge is indeed funded by government in conjunction with a private concern, it only makes sense that money invested must be recouped. This is the only way by which investment in such infrastructural benefits can easily be encouraged in future. But this is not to say that the government cannot bend over backwards to see if the demands of those who feel the toll is too high can be met half way such that would be fair and equitable to all sides.
Interestingly, this gesture shows responsive governance in Lagos where more cars are plying the roads because of the restrictions placed on commercial motor-cycles from plying certain routes in the state.
We note the governor’s reported statement at the commissioning of the bridge that the primary objective of the bridge’s conception is the need to provide a transport infrastructure that would strategically alleviate the intractable traffic gridlock in the Lekki-Ikoyi areas.
However, it is necessary to remind Governor Fashola that it is not only elite areas such as Lekki, Ikoyi and Victoria Island that need bridges to solve their traffic problems. Other areas, including Abule-Egba, Pen-Cinema in Agege and Ajegunle in Apapa need vehicular overhead bridges at their major junctions to reduce traffic situations that motorists encounter daily on such roads.