Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has given an ultimatum to the mechanics operating illicitly under Berger/Kara Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to leave.
He stated this during his inspection of the ongoing work on the bridge and its axis, recently.
He warned the technicians who initially defied the evacuation notice, that the government would be left with no other option than to enforce the law if they fail to leave the axis this time around.
In a meeting with the mechanics, he told them that according to world best practices, no mechanic operations take place under the bridge, rather it is in a workshop or yard. He explained that the then government of Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states gave the land as right of way of 47.5m, both to the left and right to the Federal government during the construction of the bridge.
Fashola gave the new ultimatum of leave as November 30, 2021, so as to enable them to cater to ember months plan for travellers. He stated that, going with what the law says, they should have been given just seven days to relocate, but on compassionate grounds, he is given them an extension.
Fashola stated that the ongoing rehabilitation of the highway would soon extend under the bridge, in addition to the coming ember months repairs by the Ministry of Works.
He stated that their activities like burning, spilling, cooking and so on, cause a lot of damage to roads and bridges, which in turn is costing the government a great fortune.
The representative of the mechanics appealed that the Federal government assist in providing an alternate location for the workers who are over three hundred, in order for them to be able to provide for their families.
Responding to appeals for alternative space, Mr Fashola advised the association to officially engage the Ogun state government to make their request, promising to help them fast-track the process.
The Minister advised the occupants to write to Ogun State Government and put in copy, the Controller of Works in Lagos and Ogun states to request for assistance on their relocation. He said once the letter is sent, he will be able to also appeal on their behalf.
He assured them that a suitable and more befitting place will be provided for them, and they will be able to run their trade with more ease.
The Minister also visited the Wey bridge, which is being refurbished along Berger way. He stated that” no matter how beautiful the highways are built, they are built with specifications. Once you don’t comply with those specifications, you are misusing or abusing the assets,” he said.
“Nigeria is a signatory to the ECOWAS hassle load regulations, signed by all ECOWAS countries and imbibed also by President Buhari through the regulations laid down, even as seen published on the walls of this place, showing approved hassles per truck, type of trucks and what each truck can carry”, he said.
“There are fines for those who exceed the specified tonnage per hassle load ranging from N1million to N10million. The reason for this enlightenment is because, we want to make it cheaper to comply and very expensive to break the law. That way, people will choose to comply that paying excessive penalties”, he said.
“At the end of the day, we are slowly hoping to return governance, law and order on enforcement and compliance to not just our highways but our general way of life, as all of us would be better for it”, he said.
“On the economy side, having seen this Wey bridge, which has been here since 1978 thereabouts, when the Lagos-Ibadan expressway was actually built, the scale here is also the old model, which was given to a consultant for repairs. The President is using infrastructure to build the economy, contrary to what some said. This is employment opportunity given, there are meters in the computer room to show what each vehicles weigh, there is a Police post, a warehouse where excess cargoes will be offloaded and stored, all these will be manned by some people”, he said.
“There is also the benefit of transhipment, so in case of an overload, the truck will be offloaded, and members of the Transport Union can take the excess cargo at approved rate. This will create a ripple effect down the line, and this is the beginning of many more Wey bridges to come”, he said.
“These activities are beyond tolling but more of highway management to create not less than 50,000 direct jobs and 200, 000 indirect jobs, so with these, you will see more Wey bridges, modern warehouses that can store not only dry cargo but also wet cargo. So, we have made the regulations, which is profitable for people. Our coming here is just to symbolize what we see ahead and how we expect the private sector to begin to key into the process”, he said.