The Lagos State Government has shut down Eko Bridge after makeshift shops and containers under the bridge in the Apongbon area of the state were gutted by fire on Wednesday.
The fire, which started around 3am, damaged the bridge, as property and goods worth millions of naira were destroyed. As some traders lamented their losses, a few residents struggled to salvage their property.
The slow movement of vehicles in the community created gridlock, leaving many commuters stranded.
While some motorists bemoaned being trapped in the traffic, other motorists re-routed through the Ebute-Ero axis.
A trader, who identified himself only as Ridwan, said the fire affected businesses and social activities in the area.
“Thank God there is no record of death, but the fire ruined many businesses here,” he added.
Officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority had a tough time directing vehicular movements in the area.
The Director, Lagos State Fire and Rescue Services, Margaret Adeseye, in a statement on Wednesday, said the intensity of the fire affected the bridge, adding that movement on the corridor was truncated.
She said, “The fire, which was reported around 3.14am on Wednesday under the Eko Bridge at Apongbon, where various stocks in trade are plied, was met by the first set of crews of the agency on arrival.
“The nature of the fire was disastrous; there has been no reported case of injury or death.”
The Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, said the fire started from the illegal structures and containers where flammable items were stored.
He added that a post-disaster assessment revealed the need for a thorough review of the location, including integrity tests of the bridge.
“This will be carried out with all stakeholders, including the Federal Ministry for Works, Lagos State Ministries of Works, Special Duties and the Environment; Lagos Fire Service, Federal Fire Service, National Emergency Management Agency and others.
“The occupants of the illegal structures have been issued a notice of 48 hours to remove same from the location to prevent any secondary incident.”
However, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Central Business Districts, Gbenga Oyerinde, who also confirmed that occupants of the illegal structures under the bridge had been asked to vacate the premises, said the removal of containers and makeshift shops affected by the fire had commenced.
He noted that the removal was to forestall the spread of the fire to other parts of the community.
Oyerinde said containers and makeshift shops would no longer be allowed under the bridge.
“Anyone who flouts the directive to steer clear from using under the bridge for storage or trading will be arrested and prosecuted,” he added.
He noted that fire under the Eko Bridge at Oke Arin might become endemic if steps were not taken to forestall a recurrence due to negligence and non-adherence to safety protocols in the area.
The state Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde, said integrity tests would be conducted on the bridge to ascertain the level of damage caused by the fire.
“Motorists who are heading towards Apongbon from Surulere and its environs should use the Ijora/Apapa route or Leventis/UBA Roundabout to connect Marina and their desired destinations. They can also use Ebute Ero to link inner Marina and the Third Mainland Bridge, to continue their journey,” Oladeinde added.
The Acting Coordinator, South-West Zonal Office, National Emergency Management Agency, Ibrahim Farinloye, said the agency received the distress alert around 6am, adding that the fire affected many shops.
He said, “The Federal Ministry of Works has been called upon to close the bridge and carry out integrity tests to determine the safety of the bridge for further usage.
“Lots of shops have gone; the shops consumed were basically selling baking materials. A lot of containers stored with different types of goods exploded and made access very difficult for firemen. The fire started around 12.45pm but the situation was brought under control.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, said the command deployed operatives in the area to forestall a breakdown of law and order.