The news on the social media was startling: Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos is unsafe for use. No thanks to its weak joints.
Like most bridges, the 20 year-old Third Mainland, has expansion joints aimed at mitigating the impact of movements or vibrations on road users. When these joints are weak or distressed, they cause discomforts, fear and trepidation an even deaths.
A bridge’s expansion joints are designed to absorb temperature, contraction of construction materials, vibration, hold parts or allow movements between two components or sections.
The Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers (NICE) recently toured the bridge to ascertain its status, especially the controversial expansion joints. At the end of the tour, it gave it a clean bill of health.
In an interview, the NICE Chairman, Lagos State chapter, Mrs. Adetona Omolola, affirned that the team the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing (FMWP&H) carried out an integrity test on the bridge last August.
She said it observed that the expansion joint, which had caused a lot of fear among road users, was due for replacement.
Mrs Adetona said they were, however, assured by the Federal Controller of Works (Lagos), Mr. Adedamola Kuti, who conducted the team round, that the materials for the repairs would soon arrive to enable them do the work. He allayed apprehensions on the safety of the bridge.
She assured that in furtherance of the need to ascertain the integrity of the bridge, the Federal Ministry of Works also undertook underwater investigations of the foundation, which results were being awaited.
The NICE chair revealed that the planned maintenance of the bridge was on course.
She, however, advised that all highway structures in the country should be subjected to planned or scheduled maintenance to ensure their fitness, in accordance with best international practice.
Mrs Adetona said NICE affirmed that the Third Mainland Bridge is still structurally safe, insisting that the public had nothing to fear.
She said: “We use this medium to appeal to the Federal Government to expedite action on the repairs or total replacement of other identified faulty expansion joints on the bridge to avert further deterioration and ensure guaranteed safe vehicular movements on the structure.”
Also, the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing insisted that the Third Mainland Bridge is safe. It debunks the social medium, which spread the fear.
In a statement, ministry said: “The public is hereby informed that the expansion joint shown in the social media is one of those slated for change during repairs on the bridge, which will commence soon. It is still functioning and our engineers and consultants have advised that it does not pose any structural danger to the bridge and it is safe for use. Tests done on the expansion joints then — called static and dynamic load tests — were to check functionality. A number of expansion joints were identified for replacement then.”
The statement further stated that in March, underwater confirmatory tests preceding the repairs, were carried out on the piles to determine if there were further deterioration or not on the piles from that done in 2013.
The statement stressed that all the tests done preparatory to the closure of the bridge to kick off comprehensive maintenance indicate that the integrity of the bridge is intact.