Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State on Monday inaugurated two link bridges in Ejigbo, which he dedicated to victims of the Jan. 27 2002 Ikeja Military Cantonment bomb explosions.
The two bridges, linking Ajao Estate and Ejigbo, were named January 27 Bridges by the governor to honour the over 1000 people, mostly children, who ran into the Oke-Afa canal and died in the stampede caused by the explosion.
Inaugurating the bridges, Fashola described the incident as “very tragic”, noting that the delivery of the projects demonstrated that the state government would always remember and honour the victims.
The governor said that the projects were also to redeem the promise the government made shortly after the incident to build bridges linking Ejigbo and Ajao Estate to ease movement of people and motorists.
“My predecessor promised you then that the government would build a bridge linking Ajao Estate and Ejigbo; now, you do not only have a bridge, you have two bridges and four roads.
“And this is also part of the inner city roads commitment we made to you. We were in Ajegunle last week, the other time, Mushin, and with this, the network of inner roads continues to increase, “ he said.
Fashola said deaths resulting from the explosions could have been prevented if those managing bombs and explosives had done their jobs well.
He, therefore, urged the Federal Government and military authorities to always ensure that explosives were not stored in places and ways that could endanger the lives of Nigerians.
The governor said the state government had since rebuilt hospitals and schools damaged by the explosions in the cantonment, to mitigate the impact of the tragedy on residents.
According to him, the government has provided succour to victims of other disasters in the state through compensation and other forms of assistance, to ensure they moved on with their lives
On why some of the victims have yet to be compensated by the state government, Fashola attributed the situation to verification problems.
“I still hear there are issues of compensation; as willing as we were to pay compensation to victims, I have said there is no amount of compensation that would bring back the lost lives.
“As much as we are willing to do so, the community must assist us to properly verify the victims and we cannot have compensation every anniversary after 12 years.
“At a time, we should get to a closure where people are allowed to move on with their lives,” he said.
Also, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Obafemi Hamzat, said the bridges, with total length of 134 metres, and the roads would make movement easier as it would eliminate gridlock by 75 minutes.
Hamzat urged residents to protect the projects from vandals and not to subject them to acts that could affect their durability.