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The 500m Oweser Bridge in New London

Desmond Ekwueme

The 500m Oweser Bridge in New London

IS GOV AMBODE AWARE OF THIS?
This bridge is called Oweser Bridge. It is about 500m long. It is right behind Diamond Estate on LASU/Egbeda road . It separates Idowu Egba, Igando, LASU, Iyana-Iba, Ojo communities from Gowon Estate, Peace Estate, Iyana-Ipaja, Ayobo, New London and Baruwa communities. Both areas are embedded inside Lagos West senatorial zone.

Those who know the geography and map of Lagos say Lagos West which has Alimosho Local Government Area is arguably the most populated senatorial zone in the country. The implication of this is that government needs to open up the roads in this area or zone to help the populace in movement and business development which of course is tied around infrastructural development.
Ironically, the Oweser Bridge which is wooden and built by persons believed to be landlords (Omo oni-ile) has served the purpose of linking these two vast areas with over 16 communities. The bridge is as old as the area Yours Sincerely gathered. The tolls collected at the bridge by its owners are used to maintain it. The families running it as business also uses most of the resources collected for their welfare. It is indeed a family business even as another story says, the LCDA allegedly shares part of the tolls. This is unconfirmed.


Cars pay as much as N500 to N800 daily depending on the quality or make of the car. Tricycles otherwise called Keke Napep pay N500 daily and bikes (okada) pay N300 daily to move passengers across Idowu Egba bus stop which is the Diamond Estate end of the bridge to Baruwa end heading towards Gowon Estate….to or fro….. But for those who prefer to pay per fare….cars pay N300, Keke Napep and Okada pay N200. Individuals crossing by foot pay N30 per crossing.

Investigation shows that given the population of the area and huge movement of residents, the tolls make for brisk business for the bridge owners who allegedly have resisted and rejected all moves by the State government to build the bridge to modern standard. The fear according to sources is that once government awards the bridge contract to the likes of CECC or Julius Berger, the toll fare will end abruptly thus throwing the families that collect the fare into labour market. The families run the business on shift bases. Some youths collect toll in the morning between 4am and 12noon. Another set collects between 1pm and 6pm while the night shift resumes by 7pm to close by 11pm.

The bridge is in a very bad state at the moment with broken planks and woods. Residents say recently a car conveying a family to Church one fateful Sunday crashed into the canal early this year but were rescued by the toll collectors. The family sustained various degrees of injuries. The bridge was dual before now but presently it has one lane and a vehicle has to wait for another to navigate into the other lane after avoiding the broken parts of the bridge which is about 100 meters.


Oweser Bridge is not the only bridge in this area. There are about four others according to residents but Oweser is centrally situated and it is the best link to the Agege, Dopemu and Ikeja axis. If constructed, it will open up the areas to attract huge development and ease off traffic on the Egbeda/Igando/LASU road.. With Alaba Int’l electronic market in Ojo and the Lagos Trade Fair Autoparts Complex towards the Lagos/Badagry Expressway this bridge needs to be constructed to boost business activities in this areas especially for people living in the Agege and Sango axis. This bridge will surely ease off the Ikeja/Dopemu/Iyana-Ipaja traffic gridlock even as that area is witnessing massive roads expansion cum construction by the Ambode administration.
Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode must excel where his predecessors struggled or failed. His predecessors allowed politics of “parapo” at the detriment of the citizens to grant the families running Oweser Bridge among others a sort of “license of operation” which earns them thousands of naira daily. The allegation that the LCDA housing the area is benefiting from this illicit business needs to be investigated and if true, this corrupt practices must stop forthwith.

The Lagos State government should take the blame of turning a blind eye to this ugly development. The calibre of Nigerians living in Peace Estate, Diamond Estate and Gowon Estate among others within and around this area is a proof that it is high brow. So the question is why the silence? Why can’t Lagos State government construct a solid modern bridge of just 500m to link these communities and ease traffic. Yours Sincerely scooped that several attempts by top shots in the area to construct a befitting modern bridge were stopped by the LCDA and State Government on the ground that it is a government project and plans to construct it is in the pipeline. This story has remained so from successive government to government.

This is where and why Ambode must come in to make a true change. The said owners of the bridge be it LCDA or private owners must have reaped enough from the tolls they have been collecting for ages. Enough of this extortion from the poor masses. Government must stand up to its responsibilities otherwise it could be assumed that the toll on the bridge is part of multiple taxation which Lagosians have been complaining about for so long. Playing politics of “let our man chop” must stop. Oweser wooden bridge must be demolished for a befitting bridge and road to be constructed by the State government. The rains are not over yet and the bridge is becoming too dangerous for residents.

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