Business owners angry over closure of Africa’s second-longest bridge

Business owners, workers and residents of Lagos are jittery as the government has announced that Third Mainland Bridge, the business bridge in Nigeria and the second longest in Africa would close for six months.

The Nigerian government announced that one lane of the 11,800m bridge would be closed for three months followed by the other for another three months.

The repair project is expected to start by July 24 and end by January 24, 2021.

The Lagos State Government has assured Lagosians that necessary measures would be put in place to reduce gridlocks during the closure of the bridge, but residents are doubtful of this assurance.

The Third Mainland Bridge which connects Lagos mainland with the Lagos island is strategic to free flow of traffic in the city. But at rush hour, commuters spend at between 90mins and 4 hours on the bridge.

The impact of this is expected to be substantial considering how central this bridge is to Nigeria’s main business in Lagos a city of more than 20 million residents.

Residents of Lagos spend an average of 30 hours in traffic every week according to a research by JCDecaux Grace Lake Nigeria.

There are alternative bridges to the Third Mainland Bridge which also connect the Lagos mainland to the Lagos island but these are small bridges that are unlikely to be able to cope with the magnitude of traffic between the two parts of Lagos daily.

The result would be hours of excruciating traffic which residents say would have a huge impact on commuting for the rest of the year.

A clothing merchant at Lagos’ largest clothing market, James Uche, explained that considering that businesses are only allowed to opened every other day till 3pm for now due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is unlikely that many businesses would be able to open.

“Let me tell you why. I can only open Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And I am expected to close by 3pm. It would mean that with the traffic problem coming with this closure, if I leave my house by 5am even though I live just 1 hour away, I would be lucky if I am able to open for three hours every day because I may not be able to get to my store until 12noon,” Uche said.

Nigerians have criticized the timing of the closure. Many say the closure and repair could have been started while the city was in lockdown.

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