How would you feel if you woke up one morning, to find out that the major bridge in your city is no longer there? Although often unnoticed, bridges play a vital role in our day-to-day urban lives. Not only do they connect our cities, but they also enable us to get to our workplace or children’s school at a much quicker time. Bridges also contribute significantly to a nation’s economic development.
In Nigeria, bridges do not only serve to connect two points where commuting would have been otherwise impossible, but they hold relevant positions in Nigerian history. They also serve as sites for tourist attractions and provide great spots for taking pictures.
Which Bridge is the Longest in Nigeria?
The third mainland bridge is the longest bridge in Nigeria. It was originally the longest bridge in Africa for six years, up until 1996 when it lost that status. It is now second to the 6th October Bridge located in Cairo, Egypt.
The third mainland bridge measures 11.8km in length (7.3 miles). It is half as long as the longest bridge in Africa and is currently the 57th longest bridge in the world. In the absence of heavy vehicular traffic, it takes about 10-15 minutes to drive through the bridge.
More Details on the Longest Bridge in Nigeria
There are three bridges that connect the Lagos mainland to the Island, which is the commercial hub of Lagos. One is the Eko Bridge, the other Carter Bridge, and the last is the third mainland bridge. The latter is the longest of the three, and the second busiest in Nigeria next to the Niger Bridge in Onitsha.
The third mainland bridge snakes through the very heart of Lagos, beginning from Oworonshoki, crossing the Lagos lagoon, and ending at the Adeniyi Adele interchange on the island. It was constructed by the infamous engineering firm, Julius Berger Plc which partnered with the PGH venture.
Oworonshoki, where the bridge starts from is likewise linked to the Apapa-Oshodi expressway and Lagos-Ibadan expressway. In the middle of the bridge, there is also a link to the Herbert Macaulay Way in Yaba. You can now see why the third mainland bridge is a crucial part of Lagos’ daily commuting.
President Shehu Shagari, the then President of Nigeria in 1980, commissioned the first phase of the project. However, it was completed by President Ibrahim Babangida in 1990, hence the obsolete name of the bridge, Ibrahim Babangida Bridge.
The third mainland bridge carries only vehicular traffic and records high amounts during weekdays, as many travels to and from Lagos island to the mainland. Journeying through the bridge also offers various iconic views of Lagos such as the Lagos lagoon, University of Lagos waterfront, and Makoko area of Lagos (a shanty slum built on the lagoon waters).
Controversies on the Third Mainland Bridge
The third mainland bridge has eight lanes and records high vehicular traffic on a daily basis even during weekends. From a traffic report carried out in 2002, the number of vehicles recorded moving in both directions over the space of 12 hours, totaled 180,902.
This figure should have doubled, if not tripled after a gaping 20 years. As such, the bridge requires constant maintenance and regular renovations. In 2006, commuters using the bridge complained about an obvious vibration of the bridge.
The complaints led to a partial closure of the bridge by the government for repairs. The bridge was closed for six months, and the repairs were executed by Borini and Prino Co. Nigeria Limited.
The repairs involved the removal of eight faulty expansion joints, and cost a little over a billion naira at the time. The bridge was eventually reopened to traffic after the repairs were done. However, four months after the reopening of the bridge, Mr. Ashaf, a senator representing Lagos East, criticized the work done by the Ministry of Works.
The senator lamented that the repairs were not thoroughly done. As against the mere dressing of the expansion joints, they argued that some parts of the bridge have been long disjointed. This was swiftly denied by the authorities.
The bridge was to undergo yet another round of repairs for the replacement of bearings and worn-out expansion joints, from mid-2020 to January 2021.
Although not as captivating as other bridges found in a few countries abroad, the third mainland bridge is inarguably an engineering masterpiece, dear to the hearts and heritage of Nigerians, especially Lagosians.