The perfection and imperfection of 4th Mainland Bridge – Part 2
The reasons for the toll gates is not equally distant from the cost of the bridge. The money budgeted for the structure is exceedingly high, especially considering the landscape the bridge will pass through. Analytically, with respect to the limited period of time the bridge is meant to be delivered, the budget of N844billion is averagely in excess of about 30% of required amount the bridge should gulp.
The excessive cost and interest rate on the investment may have further compelled the imposition of toll fare so that expenses and interest can be hastily recovered. In addition to the expensive nature of the project, the out pour of such amount of money on a single project in the limited period has diverse ripple effects. The project may become quite difficult to manage according to its pre-determined baseline; thus the quality of project is seriously at risk.
In other words, it will be difficult for expenses to be kept within targets or budget even if the punctuality or schedule of the project may be certain. The issue of cost in the project is common all over the world but we must continually strive for sustainable costing of the project.
The inclination of the cost and schedule baseline may further boomerang on the quality of the project. Resultantly, it has become necessary to question if the quality of the bridge will be Swiss, German, Italian, china quality or others. The quality gives a broad window-view into the structural and economical reliability of the bridge which further guarantees security. The feeling of security which is a huge function of quality is increasingly demanded by the people.
The relationship between the expense and quality of the bridge may be further explained from the life-cycle perspective. Adequate cognizance has to be given to the entire life-cycle cost of the bridge from this stage of construction. However, the governor promised the delivery of the project within the scheduled time frame. The impact of time outweighs that of cost in relation to the quality of the project. Thus, in relation to the life-cycle analogy, a project, particularly physical projects, shouldn’t consume more after it has been constructed than during or before its construction. That is, it would amount to a huge pitfall in planning if the cost of maintenance supersedes that of construction. In other words, both the cost of construction and maintenance of the bridge must be duly and diligently monitored from the stage of bridge process.
Fourth bridge and maintenance cost
The balance sheet of the maintenance cost in comparison to construction cost is decided on the quality of engineering of the bridge. This is why it suffices to ask if the bridge engineering would be Swiss, German, Italian, or china quality. Notably, some of the constructed or maintained roads that are being repaired and re-coated again and again showed that some roads can be poorly constructed or maintained which will result into the increased maintenance cost. Thus, premium quality of the bridge and the roads is necessitated and should be guaranteed as the project is meant to be a long-term big asset/investment to the Lagos State government.
If there is suitable balance between the construction-cost to maintenance cost ratio, a lot of things can be right; the bridge can be funded as suggested above, it can be toll free yet generate adequate revenue for the government. Also, the funding will ensure financial effectiveness and cost-prudency of the project as government will have to sit tighter to generate revenue and minimise expenses. This would lead to increased sustainability as the government can also recoup expenses and revenue from this method after the bridge has been constructed. As such, in other to protect both the economic and social interest of the bridge, it is better to make a durable infrastructure with minimal maintenance cost that will make it possible for the project to generate a friendly and long-term interest for the investors.
Bearing in mind that this is going to be the first time in the history of the state, to embark on the construction of a long-span bridge and expressway, we can take a cue from the Third Mainland. The bridge was the longest bridge in Africa until 1996 and the longest of three bridges connecting Lagos Island to the mainland till date as it measures about 11.8 km in length. However, the bridge which is among the bridges belonging to the Federal Government in Lagos, built by Julius Berger Nigeria Plc and opened by President Ibrahim Babangida in 1990, is said to have never been maintained until 2012 when the bridge experienced partial closure at different times due to repairs and additional works on the bridge’s expansion joints that cost the sum of N1.05 billion according the Bashir Yuguda, the former Minister of State for Works. The bridge which is increasingly used beyond its threshold capability still has a comparatively low maintenance, compared to its construction cost.
Thus, the state may not have required federal funding but may need federal industrial know-how to facilitate the technical support required for the project as it is difficult to find any of the bridges or roads constructed by the Federal Government with toll-gates, but newly constructed bridges and roads by the state government are Increasingly being toll-gated. Rather than toll-gating the bridge for several years, to recover investors’ money at a high-interest rate, the Lagos state government can learn from the history of the federal government’s funding system and technicality. This would help to guarantee Lagosians not just physical convenience but also financial convenience.
Thus, the bridges should ensure a pro-people balance between its economic motives and social motives. While the government may be more concerned about the Win-Win framework for all investors, they need to align their economic motives with a social motive in order to harness and sustain the goals of the state and the country in general. In as much as the state is the commercial centre of the nation, they must not lose sight of social motives that sustains the economic system of the state. The government has said the bridge is most importantly meant to make life more comfortable for Lagosians, however, it should not just be convenient for the people physically but through the social/economic policies and management practices that oversees the provided physical infrastructures.
On a congratulatory note, in over 50 years of its existence and decades of being the most commercial state in the country, the Lagos State government has made another gargantuan move which will impact civilization and urbanization of the state and its environs. The bridge will be a major milestone in the quest for inclusive growth and sustainable development in the nation. Without mincing words, the bridge will be a great Western Region infrastructure and a connective symbol as the network of the bridge will significantly boost the economic and social growth of the Region. Undoubtedly, the impact of the bridge will be felt across Western Region and the country as a whole for decades to come.
The bridge which is expected to bring a 14-year old dream to reality is quite imperative. A series of evidence has shown that our nation and in fact the world is challenged with globalisation, urbanisation, climatic change, stagnant economic growth, stagnant incomes, rising inequality and deep arguments over what to do about increasing diversity. However, regardless of the tension and difficult economic realities in the country, Lagos remains the best positioned state for the future of our country and the proposed 4th mainland bridge is a step further in realising the dream of Lagos.
• Adebiyi, a practising Estate Surveyor and Valuer, is a graduate in Estate Management from the University of Lagos. firstname.lastname@example.org