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Residents, motorists raise doubts over 2022 completion deadline for Lagos-Ibadan expressway

By Bertram Nwannekanma
17 May 2022   |   4:03 am
Residents and motorists plying Lagos-Ibadan Expressway have raised doubts over the 2022 date for the completion of the road, following slow pace of work on the project.

A crash around Olowotedo axis of the road, yesterday

Lament slow pace of work on Lotto Interchange bridge
  
Residents and motorists plying Lagos-Ibadan Expressway have raised doubts over the 2022 date for the completion of the road, following slow pace of work on the project.

   
According to them, despite assurances by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and senior officials of the ministry that the project would be commissioned before the end of 2022, realities on ground suggest that the 13-year-old reconstruction may not end by December.
    
Beyond that, there are also concerns about resolution of issues regarding houses marked for demolition at the Lotto interchange, a critical infrastructure along the expressway. 
    
Recently, members of Ogunrun Ori community, in Obafemi-Owode Local Council of Ogun State, urged Federal Government to fulfill her promise of compensating them for the over 1,000 houses marked for demolition for the project.
    
The community said they are not opposed to the demolition, which is for the overall interest of the larger populace, but rejected Ogun State Government’s move to take over the compensation role.
    
The Guardian also learnt that paucity of funds is affecting the project as some sections of the road from Long bridge to Old toll gate are not yet attended to, while action has been stayed on the three bridges at Makun, Mountain of Fire Ministry (MFM) and Ogere sections of the road.
   
Also, nothing has been done at the proposed toll plazas at Kara, Ogere and Ibadan, thereby amplifying doubts about the possibility of completing the project this year.
    
A motorist, Gabriel Ani, said though the Federal Government has, on several occasions, assured that work on the Expressway would be completed in 2022, the construction of certain critical infrastructure planned for the project; like toll gates, laybys, pedestrian bridges and bus stops are yet to commence.
    
He also pointed out the recent scrapping of laid asphalt by the contractor on a section of the completed road as a pointer that all is not well.
 
“Why would a reputed construction company involved in the project be removing asphalt at a time like?  I heard that the project is being delayed for lack of funding. Who is going to pay for the replacement with the critical financial situations now?” he queried.
    
Another motorist, Emeka Ochendu, said the slow pace of work and several demarcations on the road are causing severe sufferings for motorists and residents on the axis.
 
According to him, for several reasons, the Lagos-Ibadan xpressway is a major infrastructure project, which should not be delayed.
 
He, however, blamed officials of the ministry for lack of supervision, stressing that there would not have been need for scraping off of laid asphalt on the road, especially within Ibafa, Magboro and Punch sections of the road, if proper supervision was done.
   
Ochendu noted that the cost and energy being expended in replacing the asphalt with its attendant impact on motorists should have been deployed to finish untouched portions of Long bridge –Kara-Berger-Toll gate sections.
     
He said: “Each time the contractor deploys equipment on the road, it narrows the carriageway and motorists are often at the receiving end. The ministry often comes out to plead with motorists to bear the inconvenience that could be avoided without doing much.
 
“In the last 13 years of reconstruction, many people have died on account of avoidable accidents on the Expressway.
  
“The officials seemed not to be monitoring development on the road because some actions of the contractor are insensitive to the motoring public and unacceptable in other climes.”
   
A resident in the Olowotedo area of Mowe, Emmanuel Ojeih, lamented the unending works on the road, stressing that road dividers are often placed indiscriminately, even where works have been completed, leading to avoidable road crashes, especially at nights, that often result to loss of life and property.
     
He said: “For instance last Friday, a motorist rammed into the centre divider at km 24+800 (Lotto axis) after a brake failure inward Lagos. The accident caused severe traffic on the road, until the car was taken out from the middle of the road to enable traffic flow by Julius Berger’s emergency night team.
 
“Similarly, a ghastly accident recently occurred opposite CJ Park, near Christopher University, inward Lagos, where Traffic was also affected, until emergency responders intervened, took the injured to the hospital and cleared the road to ease vehicular movement.”
 
An Ibafo resident, Monday Ayinde, said there is also no information on what to expect on the road at any given time, either from the contractor on site or the Ministry.
 
Ayinde said residents often wake up to see that parts of the road have been divided without proper enlightenment.
  
According to him, most of the accidents are caused by lack of information on the road as some motorists, who are already used to the road, returned to see sudden dividers without caution and light at night.
 
When The Guardian reached out to an official of Julius Berger Plc, the contractor, undertaking the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the 43.6 km stretch of the Lagos to Shagamu portion of the Lagos –Ibadan Expressway, for comment on this allegation, he directed all enquiries concerning development on the road to the ministry of Works and Housing.
   
But, the Director, Highways, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, South-West Zone, Adedamola Kuti, told The Guardian that there was no cause for an alarm as the road will be delivered as expected.
   
He explained that the scrapping of asphalt on sections of the road is normal because the contractor has a duty to correct any noticeable anomalie on the road.
 
He assured that work would soon resume to complete the remaining section between Long bridge through Berger to the old toll gate.
 
Kuti said works would also resume at the Lotto interchange bridge, once they get the right of way from Ogun State Government.
    
Recall that the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, had assured that the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge will be completed in 2022.
    
Also, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Uche Orji, confirmed that the Expressway will be completed before the end of the year.
   
Orji stated this in February, during a panel session themed, ‘Economic Outlook, Sustainable Growth and Infrastructure Funding,’ organised by Deloitte Nigeria via Zoom. The event analysed Nigeria’s economic outlook in 2022.