Traffic on Third Mainland Bridge – problems and solutions after 20 years of operation


Posted by: Hassana Obi

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To many commuters, travelling on this arterial bridge is truly a nightmare in rush hours. Check out the latest updated traffic on Third Mainland bridge and possible solutions for this issue.

1. History of Third Mainland Bridge

Third Mainland Bridge was built by Julius Berger Nigeria PLC and opened for traffic in 1990 under the government of President Ibrahim Babangida (1985-1993). His full name is Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, which explains why the bridge is also called IBB bridge. Third Mainland Bridge is actually the unofficial name of this construction as it is the third bridge that links the mainland to Lagos Island.


The official name of 3rd mainland bridge is IBB Bridge

After Third Mainland Bridge construction, it was proud to be nominated as the longest bridge in Africa. However, when the 6th October Bridge of Cairo was constructed, 3rd Mainland Bridge has lost its crown as the biggest bridge in Africa.

2. The longest bridge in Nigeria

Though losing its title in continental competition, Third Mainland Bridge remains to be the longest bridge in Nigeria and even West Africa linking Lagos Island to the mainland with the total length of 11.8 km. Following are Eko and Carter whose length is 430 meters and 530 meters respectively.

Starting from Oworonshoki, the massive bridge links to 2 expressways Lagos-Ibadan and Apapa-Oshodi before arriving at the Adeniji Adele Interchange on the other end - the Lagos Island. Commuters who wish to take a shortcut to Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba can find a convenient link midway.


Eko, Carter and Third Mainland Bridge serve critical purposes in Lagos traffic

The 3rd Mainland Bridge Lagos also ranks 7th in top 10 longest bridges in the world. The leading position belongs to Bang Na Expressway in Bangkok which is up to 54 km long and takes 1.8 million cubic meters of concrete to construct. By the way, some may ask what about top 10 longest bridge in Nigeria? Of course our Third Mainland Bridge is the leader in that list.

3. Third Mainland Bridge traffic with vivid pictures

As the demand for travelling back and forth the mainland to the commercial hub Lagos Island is tremendous, Third Mainland Bridge serves an enormous volume of transports every weekday.

However, the road infrastructure in general or the quality of the bridge in particular might not meet that increasing need, illustrated by many times of closure for repairs.


The huge volume of traffic is observable in many Third Mainland Bridge pictures

Specifically, by 2006, it’s commonly reported that commuters often feel noticeable vibrations while travelling on the bridge. Remedial work was immediately commenced on each portion of the bridge, resulting in several partial closure at different times from 2006 to November 2012.

After the repair work is completely finished, local people still rumor about cracks of this eight-lane bridge but this information was straightly denied by the authorities.


Third Mainland Bridge is reported to reveal cracks till now

Surfing through forums discussing the traffic on Third Mainland Bridge, we usually encounter these following reports:

  • Very slow traffic from UNILAG waterfront to Adeniji. After this part, movement is quite free.
  • It’s 5:30 pm and Third Mainland Bridge is on a lock-down. The movement is very slow, leading to the congestion from Gbagada express into Iyana Oworo as well.
  • Too many vehicles. Heavy traffic in the morning from UNILAG waterfront.

(Extracted from: Tsabon Traffic Talk)

Welcome to Lagos: Lagos3rd Mainland Bridge Lagos Nigeria, an engineering wonder

Above traffic reports on Third Mainland Bridge are usual records from daily commuters, not yet to mention unexpected incidents which make the situation even worse.

Right now, when we are writing this article for you, the already heavy traffic on Third Mainland Bridge is stuck a long way inward the island due to a burning vehicle accident. Drivers are highly recommended to use Ikorodu road as an alternative leading to the Eko bridge.


Unwanted incidents on the bridge exacerbate the problem

According to a traffic report on Third Mainland Bridge in 2002, the number of vehicles in both direction recorded in 12 hours was 180,902 vehicles, which may have doubled or tripled after 16 years. This figure also far exceeded records from other bridges in Lagos Nigeria.

Though we can’t cite the latest statistic of traffic volume on this bridge, we believe you have somehow imagined how heavy it is based on the impressive number from over a decade ago.

The aforementioned research also indicated the traffic on Third Mainland Bridge fell to “Extreme congestion” level, whose average traffic volume per capacity ratio is greater than 1.2.


Research back to 2002 showed massive number of vehicles on Third Mainland Bridge

4. Could the problem of traffic on Third Mainland bridge be addressed drastically?

Well, we must say occasional closures for temporary fixes may not work in the long run when the traffic volume is on exponential rise day by day.

The most recent maintenance test causing the closure in August has once again given results supporting the construction of a new bridge. However, the plan for building a 4th mainland bridge has been once delayed due to unpublished reasons. That's why, honestly, we are not sure when and whether the problem could be addressed drastically.


The bridge has recently been re-opened after maintenance test (Photo source: Giditrafic)

5. The 4th Mainland Bridge design

The 4th mainland bridge plan was proposed by Lagos State Government. Its construction was expected to finish by 2019 with the total length of 38 kilometers, burning an estimated sum of N844 billion in the national budget. However, as we said earlier, the commencement had already been delayed so its due date above couldn't be obtained for sure.


The 4th mainland bridge design

If this bridge were opened, the traffic flow from the mainland to Lagos Island might be improved, reducing significant stress as well as health-related risks for commuters travelling on these routes daily.

6. The situation of traffic on Third Mainland Bridge - You can actually do something to improve it

That's pretty much everything you ever need to know about this arterial route and the most updated insight into traffic on Third Mainland Bridge. Although there is much to do by the Goverment, you can actually adopt simple yet practical driving tips to keep you and your vehicle safe while travelling on it. Don't ever underestimate these suggestions as most unwanted incidents happen due to the overestimation of your own driving skills!

  • Respect the right of others' way: Don't try to yield others' way just to save some minutes. Moving in front of a vehicle and accidentally blocking others' path might be the direct reason for a conflict then an incident you regret your whole life.
  • Obey the traffic rules: Take notice of every single road sign along and stick to it. Should there be traffic police around, remember to follow their instructions.
  • Wear seat belt all the time: Hardly could one predict what will happen in that crowded flow of traffic. Protect yourself by wearing safety devices whenever you're on road: helmets for motorists and seat belts for car passengers.
  • Watch out bad moods: I mean both your mood and weather's mood. Avoid driving when you are unwell or stressed as well as slow down in unfavorable weather conditions.
  • Pay attention and know the blind spots: There are always few blind spots around your vehicle, so make sure you maintain safe distance with large trucks or buses. Tailgating them is always a potential risk, try to stay far enough from these giants on roads.


A rare peaceful moment on Third Mainland Bridge

>>> See breathtaking bridges around the world on Naijauto:

Hassana Obi
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Hassana Obi

Hassana Obi

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Hassana Obi is an automobile writer and editor at She prides herself on hundreds of informative and entertaining articles on Nigerian traffic regulations, car prices and celebrity car collections. When Hassana is not writing, she is a teacher and philanthropist.

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