Structural and civil engineers in the country have called for a test to be carried out on the Otedola Bridge in Lagos to ascertain the effect the recent fire incident has on it.
According to the engineers, a physical examination of the bridge will show if it requires attention and also help to forestall any danger it may pose to the commuting public.
A former Chairman of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Lagos Branch, Mr Olatunde Jaiyesinmi, said if the fire affected the bridge, the authorities concerned should not ignore the effect it could have on it.
He said, “Fire is very powerful and the effect it may have on the bridge needs to be checked. When you subject anything to heat, especially something like that, if the concrete does not expand, it will transfer the heat to the reinforcement. When you heat reinforcement or iron, it becomes weak after a while and can be bent or broken.
“It depends again on the intensity of the heat and if it really happened on the bridge. The heat and even the explosion can create problems for the bridge. Sometime ago, there was fire on one of the bridges in Ijora and one of the pillars was affected. It will be good for an integrity test to be done on the Otedola Bridge; if there is asphalt on it, part of it may even melt away over time if it was affected.”
On June 28, a tanker laden with petrol exploded at the foot of the Otedola Bridge, a short link between Alausa, Ikeja and Berger area of Lagos.
The subsequent inferno consumed 54 private and commercial vehicles driving behind the tanker and claimed about 10 lives.
According to reports, a similar incident occurred on the same spot in 2010.
The immediate past President of the Nigerian Institute of Structural Engineers, Mr Oreoluwa Fadayomi, said the first thing for the concerned stakeholders to do was to confirm if the explosion occurred on the bridge or after it.
Fadayomi stated, “It is the inspection that will lead to recommendations on what should be done if there is damage. There are two issues, one can bother on design and the other can be on mechanical or any other kind of damage resulting from the incident.
“If a building gets burnt, some of the elements may be affected, warranting a test to be carried out on it to check the strength; on the basis and intensity of the fire, there will be a need for a test to confirm whether the bridge is alright or needs any form of attention. But if there are no signs of damage, one may not have to worry; but with the gravity of the incident, a test may be necessary.”
He said a team of structural and highway engineers should inspect the bridge and see if there would be a need for more tests.
“And if there is a need for further tests, fine, if not, then the bridge should be left alone. If nothing happened to the bridge, then it should be left alone; but if the incident took place on the bridge, then we need to know the magnitude. The other aspect that bothers on design can also be determined by the examination,” he added.
According to a civil engineer, Robbie Owivry, a through test on the bridge should be done owing to the intensity of the fire.
“Having been subjected to such an enormous impact of heat waves emanating from the fire, the natural thing to do is to subject the bridge to an integrity test to ascertain its fitness,” Owivry, who is the immediate Past Chairman, Lagos branch of the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers, stated.
The Federal Controller of Works, Lagos, Mr Ademola Kuti, in a telephone interview with our correspondent, however, stated that a preliminary test had been carried out on the bridge.
“We have done a preliminary test on the bridge, people should await the outcome of that exercise, but there will be a further test on it. That will be a more comprehensive test. However, a contractor, Julius Berger, is also on the road,” he added.
The Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Mechanical Engineers, Lagos Chapter, Mr Segun Fadeyi, stated that last week, he led his executive team to the bridge and met a team from the Federal Ministry of Works, who gave an assurance that a comprehensive test as well as rehabilitation would be carried out.
“Julius Berger is working on the road because the place is sloppy and the trailer carrying that load was overloaded. The capacity of the engine was lower than the load it was carrying, which led to the accident; but as we were told, Julius Berger wants to reconstruct the place and may resurface the bridge,” he added.