A 50-year-old overhead bridge that crossed the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway at the New Artisan Market in Enugu State collapsed without causing any fatalities yesterday.
According to the report, the incident, which occurred at about 12 noon, left commuters stranded, creating heavy gridlock around the New Haven and Independence Layout area.
Traders in the new Artisan Market claimed that they heard a large bang shortly after two lorries conveying goods passed through the bridge. One of the traders, who identified himself as Musa said: “We knew that this would happen someday because we have been complaining to government officials about the noise from this bridge. On each occasion, they come here and take pictures and go away.
“A Mitsubishi truck developed a fault and got trapped in the collapsed bridge in the morning. The driver went to bring a mechanic only to return to find the vehicle inside the rubble.”
When The Guardian visited the scene later in the day, the Mitsubishi truck was still trapped in the collapsed portion of the dual carriage bridge, while efforts were on to recover it.
Meanwhile, security officials have cordoned off the area, while evacuation of debris from the collapsed bridge had commenced, thereby forcing motorists playing the expressway to divert through alternative routes to continue their journey.
Officials of the Federal and Enugu State Ministries of Works, Federal Road Maintenance Agency, and Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) were sighted within the area to assess the situation as well as to assist the road users plying the alternative routes.
Some residents of Goshen Estate, Premier Layout, worshippers at the Dunamis Church, and traders at the New Artisan market, who are regular users of the bridge complained of serious gridlock on account of the collapsed bridge.
Meanwhile, Governor Peter Mba has called for a new road maintenance model to guarantee better condition and longevity of Nigerians’ roads, regretting that the current model had failed woefully.
Speaking to newsmen after the first-hand inspection of the scene of the failed bridge, Mbah who thanked God that no life was lost despite the magnitude of the incident, urged the Federal Government to consider a concession of all the federal roads in each state, to the state governments for proper maintenance in conjunction with the private sector.
Also, Enugu State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Gerald Otiji, in a statement, said the government has advised commuters to use Nza Street through New Haven or ply Ogui Road and Abakaliki Road to their various destinations, while the authorities come up with measures for immediate repair on the failed section of the bridge.