THE Lagos State Government has served illegal traders doing their businesses under the Apongbon end of the Eko bridge a 48-hour notice to vacate the area.
In a statement issued on Monday and signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Gboyega Akosile, the government said the ultimatum it gave the traders to vacate the area, which will expire on March 30, would not be extended.
Last week, a fire had broken out from the stalls under the bridge at the Apongbon end and razed them, while also damaging the bridge.
A crowd of traders affected by the fire sighted Lagos State governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Monday when he visited the site and made a passionate appeal to him not to shut the market.
However, Sanwo-Olu, who, alongside his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, was at the site for an on-the-spot assessment of the damage done to the bridge, refused to grant the request, saying that the traders’ unsafe practices led to the situation that caused the fire outbreak.
Sanwo-Olu, who was said to have bemoaned persistent destruction of vital public infrastructure within the state, disclosed that Lagos had recorded major damage on eight bridges across the state in the last two years.
The development, the governor said, usually takes a toll on socio-economic activities and slows down productivity.
He said, “Each time something like this happens, it affects everyone of us and the economy. The implication is far-reaching and this will not be accepted as a norm. It costs more resources to put the damaged bridges back in shape and the activity takes more time to be completed. We cannot continue to have a few people who are engaging in actions that cause damage to public assets to put everyone at risk.”
The governor said Lagos State and the Federal Government would be conducting a joint investigation on the affected parts of the bridge to ascertain the level of rehabilitation work required to put it back in shape, adding that the reopening of the closed section of the bridge may not happen until after structural engineers completed their investigation and had certified it for use.
He said the government’s main focus in the interim was to bring normalcy back to vehicular movement along the routes and ease the pain commuters were going through in the axis.
The governor directed the removal of vehicles parked on the elevating ramp at Ebute Ero towards Costain and ordered the presence of police and traffic officers to manage movement around alternative routes in and out of Marina.
He told the traders that plans were being made to relocate them to places where they would safely conduct their businesses.
Aside from slowing down traffic, the governor said activities under the bridge raised security concerns for the traders and commuters.
“We can all see that the traders have refused to take care of public assets. All of the things that were happening under the bridge are totally unacceptable. Our government is not about making life difficult for our citizens. The citizens should know that their commercial activities need to be done in places that have been designated as proper markets.
“The state government is working with the local government chairman and the representatives of the affected traders to identify where we can relocate the displaced traders immediately, so that they do not lose their source of livelihood. If we should allow the traders to be back under the bridge and go back to how things were being done, it means that we are being reckless,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu and members of the state’s cabinet visited the Obalende bridge for an evaluation of the safety of the infrastructure.