HOW THE TRAFFIC CONGESTION IN THE NIGER BRIDGE WERE REDUCED BY THE STATE GOVERNMENT
The traffic congestion on the popular Niger Bridge had been a topic of discuss for years mostly for the people that do travel between south-south and south-east regions of the country. The most affected individuals which are the business men and women having business activities between the two regions.
I remembered in the year 2005 when the bus I was travelling with have to spent a whole day just to cross from the city of Asaba to Onitsha, though it happened in the past but the memory of that incident never leave my mind.
The bridge which was re-built after the Nigeria and Biafra civil war was done when the country still have enough money in their reserve, I learnt that it was among the structures re-built during the Gen. Yakubu Gowon’s embankment for rehabilitation and re-construction projects immediately after the civil war. I also learnt that it was during this period that Nigeria had a boom in crude oil production and the price of crude then was high, such that the government was able to save enough for its huge projects.
Taking a look at the bridge, a good engineer would confirm that it was made it very solid structures such that it could carry any weight on it without a sign of fatigue. Though analysts has it that, its strength has reduced such that in the future it may collapse following the loads it normally carry everyday as a result of traffic congestion, but this claim has not been proven in a scientific manner that could convince most engineers.
The bridge has multiple lines of beams with average thickness of 30mm and 100mm widths, followed by concrete pillars of about 9000cm3 by volume up to about ten of such pillars, having their foundations laid beneath the water bed, yet there has been tension among the users of the bridge on its possible collapse one day.
From my calculations in regard to the traffic that do occur on this bridge, I discovered that during the yuletide season the bridge may be filled up with commercial bus, private vehicles, and petroleum tankers or other industrial vehicles for hours waiting for the roads at either sides of the bridge to become free, when I made an estimate of the possible mass of all those vehicles put together the value was reading in trillions of kilograms, but the question is would such mass cause the collapse of such massive structure even if they are to stand there for days?
The traffic congestion made the city of Onitsha to become boring, since many people do not see commercial vehicles to convey them after the whole day stress of buying and selling as a result they are left with no other option than to start trekking to their various houses with legs. This was the situation then until the intervention of the then Anambra state government, who expanded the bridge entrances and multiplied the lane of the road up to six at the Onitsha terminal and the lane was maintain up to upper-iweka junction and even beyond. The then government received a lot of applause on that such that the president was invited for its commissioning. Today that expansion has done a lot in reducing the traffic congestion within Onisha axis, such that during the day individuals and vehicles can freely cross the bridge without obstructions, however that did not totally eliminate congestion during the evening hour especially between 6pm to 10pm and during yuletide periods.
However, most of the congestion that do occur these days are due to either damaged vehicle on the road, accident, or activities of security agents in trying to checkmates any illegality among those crossing the bridge in the evening hour.