Following torrential rainfall, a section of G.U. Ake/Airport Road Flyover Bridge on the Port Harcourt/Aba Expressway intersection, yesterday collapsed, thereby cutting off vehicular traffic around all the link roads in the area.
The flyover takes traffic off Stadium Road, Port Harcourt/Aba Expressway, and Eliozu/Rukpoku/Airport Road in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The flyover bridge, first constructed by BULLETINE Construction Company Limited, was completed under the Governor Peter Odili administration, but has been riddled with technical defects, following poor quality delivery on the job.
The Tide learnt that it was to correct this technical defect that the Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi administration awarded contract for the rehabilitation of the flyover bridge and reconstruction of the entire stretch of the G.U.Ake Road to Reynolds Construction Company Limited (RCC), following observed poor quality job execution on the road by BULLETINE.
Eyewitnesses told The Tide at the scene that the incident occurred at about 2pm yesterday during the heavy rains, which caused severe flooding of and disrupted traffic around Port Harcourt and its environs.
The Tide observed that the Stadium Road axis of the flyover bridge was seriously affected by the incident, which saw part of the flyover washed away after the collapse.
Following the incident, officials of the state Traffic Management Agency (TIMARIV), traffic police and Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), quickly condoned off all link roads to the flyover, and ensured that all human and vehicular traffic to and from the circumference were diverted.
For instance, vehicles from Isaac Boro Park/Rumuola axis of Port Harcourt/Aba Expressway en route Rumuomasi/Artillery had to be diverted through Mama Bee Road to Stadium Road, while those from Eleme Junction/Artillery to Rumuola/Isaac Boro Park had to access their destinations through either Artillery/Old Aba Road or Rumuomasi Market Junction/Elekahia Road.
When The Tide visited the scene, many people were seen trekking long distances before boarding vehicles, as all commercial and private vehicles were barred from plying that intersection of the ever busy Aba/Port Harcourt Expressway Road while some vehicles were seen stranded after developing overheat or other engine problems due mainly to the long traffic grid-lock that ensued.
Some commuters who spoke to The Tide, accused the initial construction company, BULLETINE, of using sub-standard materials in executing the flyover contract less than seven years ago, and called on the Rivers State Government to take all necessary action against the Lebanese company.
They expressed gratitude to God that no life was lost as the collapsed flyover bridge was always a busy spot during the weekdays, with vehicles, hawkers, and even pedestrians, who may not have bordered to commute to their destinations.
Reacting to the development, the Rivers State Government, yesterday ordered the closure of the Air Force flyover bridge along Port Harcourt/Aba Expressway.
The state Commissioner for Works, Victor Giadom and his Transport counterpart, George Tolofari, who visited the scene of the collapsed flyover bridge, said the order became necessary following the caving in of part of the re-enforcement walls of the flyover.
They ordered that traffic be diverted to keep motorists away from the collapsed axis of the flyover bridge, and warned those walking under the flyover on the Port Harcourt/Aba Expressway to stay away from the bridge to forestall any unnecessary casualties.
They thanked God that no vehicle or individual was involved in the incident, and added that government would do everything necessary to address the challenges posed by the development.
It would be recalled that yesterday’s heavy rains had caused severe flooding around major areas in Port Harcourt and its environs, as residents and motorists found it exceedingly difficult to move freely within the city.
The Tide investigations showed that most areas in the city were flooded, including GRA, Diobu, Nkporgu, Ogbunabali, Elekahia, Rumuomasi, Rumuola and Rumuolumeni, among other communities in both Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt City local government areas.
Human and vehicular traffic were also seriously hampered by the flooding, which also saw the various creeks within the city heavily flooded, including Nta-Wogba, Waja, among others.
Residential houses, markets and business areas were not left out as every area of the city witnessed unprecedented flooding following the heavy rains which lasted about four hours.