Narrow bridges

Nigeria and the failure of bridges

Government should invest more in bridge maintenance

At least 21 people were killed recently after the vehicles they were traveling in fell into a collapsed bridge in Rabadi village, Gwaran local government area, Jigawa state. Among the victims were 11 people returning to Adamawa from Kano State where they sat for a recruitment screening exercise in the Nigerian military. The bridge is said to have sunk due to torrential rains.

While we sympathize with the families of the deceased, the degradation of the country’s infrastructure is widespread and weighs heavily on the transport system. Most of the roads and bridges across the country are in terrible shape. As with building collapses, many bridges also collapse, causing severe damage and severing crucial connections across the country. The collapse in 2017 of the Tatabu Bridge in the Mokwa local government area in Niger state, for example, caused widespread suffering to commuters. With a forced diversion of traffic through bush roads, hundreds of commuters on their way to Abuja and other parts of the north were stranded for hours due to traffic jams.

Likewise, residents of the community of Iluju in Ogbomoso, Oyo state, recently experienced unspeakable hardship, albeit on a smaller scale, when the only bridge connecting them to other communities collapsed. due to excessive precipitation. Although no lives were lost, the unintended consequences were profound. All social and economic activities were paralyzed. More unfortunately, some SSS3 students from Iluju Community High School who are currently taking the WAEC exam have not been able to enter their school. The legislator representing the Oriire State constituency in the Oyo State House of Assembly, Jacob Bamigboye, who visited the region, called on Governor Seyi Makinde “to help direct the competent ministry or agency to start the reconstruction of the bridge ”.

Bridges are essential as they provide unique solutions for road and rail traffic to cross rivers, gorges and other challenging environmental terrain. Perhaps this is why they are expensive to build, especially in the Niger Delta river region. But the collapse of the ramparts of many of these structures is cause for concern, as some of the failing bridges are attributed to faulty designs or substandard materials. In May this year, the Ozuma Bridge in Okenwe, Okene Local Government Area in Kogi State, collapsed a week after it was commissioned by the government. The bridge reportedly failed the concrete strength test because inferior materials – 10mm rods – were allegedly used by engineers for the construction work. This raises deep questions about procurement and corruption, a common topic across the country.

However, some bridges fail largely due to the effects of nature, exacerbated in recent times by prevailing climate changes, with intense weather conditions and flooding. A study conducted on the collapsed Tatabu Bridge in 2017 found that the positioning of the bridge in a valley as well as the steady increase in precipitation from 2015 to 2017 contributed to its eventual collapse. But exceptional constraints due to the volume of traffic and the imposed deadweight can also lead to the collapse of bridges. Indeed, some experts insist on the need to install monitoring devices to record the stresses on the bridges. It was only recently that a member representing the federal constituency of Ovia, Dennis Idahosa, warned that the Ugbogui Bridge in the local government area of ​​Ovia in southwest Edo state was a disaster. imminent. A section of the bridge on the busy Lagos-Benin road collapsed and caused endless traffic jams. “You can clearly see the river and also notice the increased vibration as motorists struggle to find their way through the narrow section which is good,” he said.

Overall, there is an urgent need for government at all levels to invest more in the monitoring and maintenance of our bridges to prevent future disasters.

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