It is not surprising that building experts have raised the alarm on the threat that parked trucks and tankers pose to Lagos bridges. The bridges have, for many weeks now, been turned into parking lots by all manner of articulated vehicles, engendering worries that the facilities may collapse. The relevant government agencies must move quickly to get the trucks off the bridges before their integrity is compromised. Some of the bridges said to be at risk of buckling under the weight of parked heavy-duty vehicles are the Ijora, Eko and Carter Bridges. Others are the ones at Abalti Barracks, Ojuelegba and the National Stadium.
The danger that the scores of articulated vehicles and their containers pose to these bridges must not be underestimated. This is because, as the experts have said, the bridges are not designed to carry heavy stationary vehicles. Therefore, subjecting them to this strain, could have disastrous consequences for their stability. Apart from suffering damage and fatigue, the bridges risk collapse.
Since many of the articulated vehicles on the bridges carry fuel and other petroleum products, the risk of fire outbreak with its dire consequences cannot be ruled out. We cannot afford the damage that a fire on the bridges might cause commuters and the bridges themselves. Parking of trucks on the bridges could weaken them and reduce their lifespan.
Generally, bridges are built for vehicles to move on, not park on. In other words, the bridges are designed to carry temporary loads, and not to retain such loads for hours or even days. Because of this, the Federal Government should urgently evacuate the heavy trucks to a safe park before the bridges collapse.
It has been estimated that the total weight of 25 stationary trucks is about 450,000 kilogrammes. The worry is that some of these bridges have about that number of trucks parked on them for weeks on end.
It is good that the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Mr. Godwin Eke, is aware of the danger to which these bridges are exposed and is hopefully doing something about it. Therefore, the ongoing talks between the Federal Government and Ogun State Government to provide a loading bay where articulated vehicles could park should be speeded up.
Government should also intensify the engagement of stakeholders such as the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) and National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) on how best to resolve this problem. The presence of these heavy vehicles on the bridges is chaotic. Apart from constituting danger to other bridge users, they cause endless traffic hold ups with their serious implications for commuters and the economy of the city.
Let there be immediate remedial measures by government. This disorderly situation may cause road accidents. Besides the arrangement the government is making with Ogun State, there should be parks for these vehicles in Lagos too, where their drivers can park them before moving to the ports and tank farms to load petroleum products. The government must not wait until these bridges collapse before intervening, as their collapse will claim many lives. Such a scenario should, therefore, be avoided by all means.
In addition to building more trailer and tanker parks, government should hasten the development of other modes of transportation, especially the rail and waterways, to reduce the pressure on our roads. If rail and water transportation are fully developed, most of the items now being moved about by trailers and tankers would be conveyed by water or rail. If most parts of the country are linked up by an efficient rail system, the pressure on the roads would be less. Everything necessary should be done to ensure that these bridges do not collapse under the weight of articulated vehicles.