Armed men have started seizing the opportunity of the gridlock being caused by the collapsed section of the Ijora-Olopa Bridge in Lagos to dispossess unsuspecting motorists and passers-by of their valuables.
It was reported that a portion of the bridge caved in on Tuesday and traffic was quickly diverted to the other lane.
The diversion, it was learnt, led to gridlock on the road.
Punch correspondent who visited the area on Thursday gathered that hoodlums had been attacking motorists inside the gridlock, especially towards the evening.
It was further learnt that the miscreants target their victims’ phones, money and other valuables.
An eyewitness, who did not want his name mentioned because of fear of victimisation, said some hoodlums attacked a lady in the traffic with a knife and dispossessed her of her belongings on Wednesday.
He said other victims were saved by some soldiers who were passing by at the time of the attack.
The source said, “A lady was robbed yesterday (Wednesday) night. She was in her car and the armed robbers pulled out a knife to frighten her, and unfortunately, she was dispossessed of her belongings on the spot.
“The robbers used the knife to injure her on the face and she was soaked in blood.
“Four armed robbers in a tricycle also attempted to rob a man, but the attack was foiled because some soldiers were passing by. The robbers fled the scene on sighting the soldiers.”
Another road user, while corroborating the source’s claim, called for more caution while plying the road.
He also called on the government to speed up the rehabilitation work on the collapsed section.
“There is a need for total repair of the bridge. When walking or driving on the bridge, one must also be conscious so as not to be robbed,” he said.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, could not be reached for comment on Thursday as calls made to his mobile phone rang out and a message sent to his telephone had yet to be responded to as of the time this report was filed.
But when contacted, the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Area ‘C’ Command, Surulere, Adedeji Afolarin, who spoke with PUNCH Metro, on Thursday, assured residents and motorists in the area that proper action would be taken.
“There is no problem. Thank you for the information. I will get across to the DPO that covers that area and necessary action will be taken,” Afolarin said.
An official of the Federal Road Safety Corps seen on the bridge told our correspondents that the affected section had been cordoned off and manned by officers to avert any danger for road users by directing them to the alternate routes.
He said, “Motorists that usually ply this road are being directed to take Iganmu Bridge. For motorists going towards Apapa, you just need to follow through Iddo. From Iddo, you move to Costain and from Costain to Iganmu Bridge and then straight down to Apapa. That is the only way for now.
“We have been here since we received the call on Tuesday, redirecting motorists who are unaware of the collapse to take alternative roads. You can see that we have demarcated the entire bridge from usage. This bridge collapsed on Tuesday between 9.30am and 10am.”
Meanwhile, our correspondents saw some engineers drafted to the scene to assess the situation.
The engineers, however, could not confirm when rehabilitation would commence on the collapsed bridge.
When approached, one of them said, “We don’t know yet when rehabilitation will start. We learnt about it yesterday (Wednesday).
“We have only come here to assess the cause of the collapse and take the report back to the office.
“It is after this that we will know when work will begin. But for now, we are only observing and measuring the cause. We cannot say when construction will start.”
The Federal Roads Maintenance Agency’s spokesperson, Mrs Maryam Sanusi, could not be immediately reached as of the time this report was filed.
But the Federal Government on Wednesday directed the immediate closure of the bridge “following the discovery that some miscreants have tampered with the major reinforcement elements of the deck from underneath which led to the failure of a section of the Bridge along Ijora Olopa Road, beside Water Corporation, Ijora.”
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN, in a Press Statement signed by his Special Adviser on Communications, Hakeem Bello, identified the failed section as the Ijora-Olopa inward Ijora-Oloye–Apapa.
According to the statement, roads leading directly to the bridge such as Costain inward Eko Bridge and Carter Bridge descent inward Ijora Oloye have, as a result, been closed to traffic.