The Lagos State Government has finally started a preliminary work on the Fourth Mainland Bridge.
The 26-kilometre infrastructure would be designed to link Ikorodu to the state’s economic hub in Eti-Osa Local Government Area.
The state Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, disclosed this in an interview with THISDAY, saying there was no problem on the development of the project contrary to speculations that it had been abandoned.
Hamzat, who once served as the state Commissioner for Science and Technology, explained why full work had not commenced on the proposed bridge linking it to a good number of buildings, which he said, would be affected if the old alignment was the state’s preferred option for the right of way.
He explained that the old alignment “is becoming a bit cumbersome because of the number of buildings on the right of way. It might be extremely destructive if we want to follow the old alignment. We might probably need to destroy a lot of good buildings. This option is not fanciful to us. So, we have to look at another right of way.”
He, therefore, acknowledged that consultants “are working on the new right of way. We will look at the cost-benefit analysis of the alignment that will be cost-effective. We are considering if it is better to pay compensation than going through another alignment. The experts are already working on it, and the report will come out soon.”
Hamzat categorically clarified that there was no problem, though explained that people “may not see the physical work at all for now. A bridge is not what we can jump in there and start to build. Then, we will be able to commence full work. But internally, a lot have been going on. The preliminary work has actually started.”
The commissioner, however, declined to give timeline for the completion of the project, citing different issues, which he said, needed to be resolved before the state government could commence work on the bridge in full scale.
He explained the need to meet all the stakeholders and people whose buildings would be affected in order to discuss the issues of compensation and resolve other issues that might lead to litigation while developing the infrastructure.
At this instance, the commissioner said it might be difficult “to determine. That is the truth of the matter. If there are 50 buildings on the right of way, we have to determine their cost. We also need to talk to people that will be affected.
“The fact that the state wants to pay compensation does not mean somebody will not go to court. So, we need to engage internally without people knowing what is happening. We need to know the owners of the buildings. We need to talk to them and arrive at a conclusion. So, it depends on how responsive the people are,” he said.
Meanwhile, the State Governor Babatunde Fashola, at the weekend, threw more light on the reasons behind seeming delays in some road projects across the state, saying they are much more complex, sophisticated and with people issues involved.
Fielding questions from senior journalists at an interactive session in Lagos, Fashola said some of the roads being built in the mainland areas of the state needed piling and other underground work before surfacing while others were facing problems of lack of urban planning, community resistance and court actions.
The governor explained that what was going on with the Lagos-Badagry Expressway expansion project was that the road was awarded to two contractors, Messrs Julius Berger, which is doing the 10 lane road and Messrs China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) which is handling the light rail section of the road, adding that because of the piling work which CCECC has to complete before the road is filled, Julius Berger had to step aside until the piling is finished.
On the other inner city roads in various parts of the state, Fashola said some of the delays came from the owners of land on which the roads pass, some of who went to court to stop government from acquiring their land while others protested and fought contractors on site.
“The work we are doing now is much more people issue because we are now engaged in holding a lot of meetings with communities and people and explaining to them to allow us build the roads. The alternative is that all our projects can hang up in courts and I will be the last person to defy court injunction,” the governor said.