Lagos State Government has once again rekindled its intention to provide an alternative to other bridges connecting the Mainland and Island, especially the 3rd mainland bridge – the 4th mainland bridge.
The State Government had weeks ago, advertised expression of interest on the project and subsequently opened the bid to welcome companies that have indicated interest in construction of the bridge. And so far, the expression has recorded the interest of 39 companies.
Lagos State Government has been looking for a way to execute the project using the Public Private Partnership (PPP), due to the cost. The Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Aramide Adedoye, said that the government does not have the fund for the project and has to place it under PPP arrangement.
She however acknowledged that the interest has been overwhelming, and the record of 39 companies that have shown their readiness to execute the project through partnership is encouraging. But the process will have to go through six stages before a finalist would be selected, for the sake of transparency.
Some of the companies that have expressed interest in the project are: Julius Berger, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, China Jiangxi International Economic and Technical Cooperation Company Limited, Kyeryong Construction Company, Pythgoras Holdings, CRCCCI Nigeria, China State Construction and Engineering Corporation Nigeria Limited, Bua International Limited.
The 4th mainland project was conceived years ago and has been repeatedly hindered by lack of funds. But the Public Private Partnership has opened the way for it to be revisited once again, this time, many companies from around the world are willing to take on the task.
The Lagos State Permanent Secretary, Works and Infrastructure, Olujimi Hutonu, noted that the recent opening started in November.
“The journey started on November 28, 2019 when the advert for expression of interest was placed. Three weeks later, the expression of interest has been opened and made public,” he said.
But the origin of the idea could be traced back to 2003, when Bola Tinubu was the State Governor. The transport activities on the Mainland-Island axis was becoming overwhelming for 3rd Mainland, Eko and Carter bridges, and obviously the need for additional bridge became so crystal clear.
In 2008, NLE’ Works designed the visual concept of the bridge and it was approved by the State Government. The bridge was designed to be a 38k expressway with 140km speed. It’s going to be a two-level bridge. The upper level will function for vehicle traffic while its lower level will serve as pedestrian for social and commercial activities.
The bridge was designed with eight interchanges to enable interconnectivity to many parts of Lagos. According to the plan, the alignment passes through Lekki, Langbasa and Baiyeku towns along the shoreline of the Lagos Lagoon estuaries, running through Igbogbo River Basin and crossing the Lagos lagoon estuaries to Itamaga area of Ikorodu. It further crosses the Itokin road and the Ikorodu-Sagamu road to connect Isawo inward Lagos-Ibadan expressway at Ojodu Berger axis.
The bridge is designed to have a four-lane dual carriageway with each comprising three lanes and two meters hard shoulders on each side. At 38km, it’s going to be the longest bridge in Africa, surpassing the 20.5km 6th October bridge in Egypt.
With this approved plan, former Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode signed a MoU with consortium of firms to finance the construction in May 2016. Some of the firms include Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Africa Finance Corporation, Visible Asset Limited, Nigerian Westminister Dredging and Marine, J.P. Morgan, Access bank and Hi-tech Consortium Limited. At the cost of N844 billion, Visible Assets Limited was going to be the coordinating firm for the project.
In May 22 2017, Ambode, to many people’s surprise, announced that the State Government has cancelled its MoU with these firms due to the delay in commencement of the work by the concessionaire. The hope for 4th mainland bridge was not heard of until last month when Governor Sanwoolu announced the expression of interest for the project.
While the news brings a sense of relief to Lagosians due to the fact that it will ease the menace of traffic that has become the bane of suffering of commuters, especially those plying the Mainland-Island routes, concern exists about how the concessionaires are going to recover the huge sum the project is going to gulp. Using the Lekki-Epe expressway as an example (where three toll gates were built, and there is always a fight between LCC and road users about increment in toll fees), many are expressing the fear that commuters may be forced to pay more than they are earning to use the bridge.