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Lagos-Ibadan expressway reconstruction as killer

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[FILES] Lagos-Ibadan Expressway construction

For some time now motorists and residents living along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway have been passing through hell as a result of the ongoing reconstruction work on the road.

It’s not as if they just started experiencing the tough times. The suffering and problems have been there all these years but it’s more magnified now than ever before. 

But the suffering seems to have come to a crescendo in the last couple of days. Last week Wednesday the whole stretch of the road was locked down for hours due to oil spillage on a bad spot of the road shortly after Berger and inwards Ibadan.

The road mishap and gruesome traffic was aggravated by the ongoing reconstruction work that has seen the barricade of a sizeable portion of the road, thereby leaving just one or two lanes for the hordes of vehicles that ply that road. That has been the plight of motorists and residents living along the road.

Same sinister incident replicated itself again on Tuesday April the 2nd when another oil spillage at Ibafo end of the road also locked down the road for close to 48 hours. Many Motorists and users of the road slept on the road as it was a horrendous experience that saw vehicles at standstill for several hours! 

Same Tuesday somebody that was billed to travel to America nearly missed his flight as a result of the traffic jam on the road. He had to device means of going through the bushes and pathways with Okada to beat the traffic.

By the time he got to airport they have already closed checking in of Luggage and he just managed to enter the aircraft without his bags! That was a similar experience of a Lagos Banker with the second generation banks who was billed to travel to Guinea the following day for an official duty. He got a call around 8pm to stay back in Lagos instead of coming back to his house in Arepo Area of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. He insisted on coming back to his house for him to travel the following day. He got to his house by 5am Wednesday morning and had to leave one hour later for him to catch his flight to Guinea! 

A brief incursion into the historical template of this all important Lagos-Ibadan Expressway shows that it’s a history replete with shame, callousness, negligence, and not worthy to be under listed in the course outline of contemporary scholars and our children in the school.

The road that was built about forty years ago has suffered much rape, neglect and bastardization that it’s four decades of existence has become a case study of how not to treat an important asset! 

Be that as it may, the current situation on the road calls for urgent attention by the government and well meaning Nigerians as the state of the road is daily extracting sizeable portion of life span from residents and motorists that commute on the road. 

Motorists, commuters and indeed Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief when in 2016 the new regime of President Buhari re-awarded the construction of the road to Julius Berger and RCC. This was after the government of Obasanjo and Jonathan toyed with the fate of motorists with the chess game it subjected the road with Bicortney and its attendant contractual inexactitudes. 

A time frame of three years was initially given for the completion of the road in 2016 when the contract was awarded. As we pen down this that road has not gotten up to sixty percent and the new projected date for completion is stated for 2021. This is according to the information from the supervising ministry of Works, Housing and Power. 

The most painful aspect of all these is the way and manner the construction company that is handling the job is going about it. At best the approach could be described as clumsy, lackadaisical, nauseating, unscrupulous, unserious and callous. Why do I say so. And the reason is not farfetched.

The construction firm will take up a portion of the road now and dance around it for some time only to abandon it for months. Only for them to start demarcating, barricading and starting work from another section of the road. A typical example is that it’s going to one year the section of the road from Ibafo to Asese has been under construction. And for months now motorists and residents have been passing through very excruciating times.

Up till now it has not been fully completed. Having not finished that portion last December the same construction company barricaded the section of the road from Magboro Bridge to MFM, thereby throwing motorists and residents into an unqualified hardship.

These days traffic builds up right from the beginning of the Long Bridge down to Mowe. Motorists now spend an average of three to four hours to drive from Berger to Mowe on a journey of less than ten minutes! The impact of this on the health of commuters, motorists and residents are better imagined than been articulated here.

Vehicles have been subjected to undeserved stress, causing them to frequently break down on highway and also making them to develop avoidable faults that were occasioned by the man made irrationality of those handling the work. 

Lives and property of commuters are daily threatened and harassed by evil men and urchins who have taken advantage of the usually long and near stand Still hold up to attack, maim, and dispossess them of their valuables. 

This brings us to the rationale behind closing and narrowing the road at Magboro. Common sense would have dictated to the construction company and in fact the supervising ministry if at all they come to site to see how the work is going. 

The reason being that work has not been completed at the Ibafo section of the road which is a few kilometers from the Magboro end. As such any impediment on the road will boomerang and subject people to untold hardship. This is made worse if there is an accident or breakdown of a vehicle on the single lane. The kind of traffic this normally cause is better imagined as everywhere will be at stand still! 
 
As we talk the starting of the work from that Magboro Bridge down to Ibafo, a distance of not up to one kilometer has not been completed, Five months after it was started! 

This has lend credence to fears been allayed that perhaps the Works, Housing and Power Minister Babatunde Fashola does not care nor visit the construction site of the road to know what is happening. His field men may not also be coming to check or will they say that they don’t read, hear the plight of motorists, commuters and residents on the road as it’s been daily reported. 

It’s not that we write or do criticism unnecessarily but by deployment of hindsight and using comparative analysis we submit that the handling of the Reconstruction work on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is not done in utmost good faith.

For instance the Muritala Mohammed International Airport Road in Lagos that it’s reconstruction started barely two years ago is almost finished.

Granted that the distance of the road is not the same thing with that of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway but we see a lot of zeal and serious mindedness on the part of the contractors working day and night to ensure they deliver on target! 

In conclusion the best thing to be done on the road now is for the construction companies to speed up the pace of work, stop further barricading and narrowing of the road, open up the section of the road at Magboro, Ibafo, Asese for free flow of traffic. They should also concentrate on finishing one portion of the road, open it for use before moving to another section of the road.

The Federal Government, Ogun State government and the construction company handling the road should put proactive measures in place. In case of any breakdown of vehicles particularly articulated ones there should be mechanism and means of removing the impediments especially now that most parts of the road have been reduced to one lane! 

Also law enforcement agencies should ensure that motorists following one way at the slightest provocation are discouraged. This is because once there is noticeable traffic motorists will start taking one way thereby totally blocking the road! 

The construction companies should as a matter of urgency and national importance start patching and smoothening up all sections of the road that is in dire need of repairs. These palliative works on these sections will make a huge difference on the road. Government on its part should try and fulfill its contractual obligations to the construction companies by paying them the agreed fees as and when due! 

The Minister of Works, Housing and Power should as a matter of priority and regard to motorists and residents on the road visit the road, at least once in a month to ascertain the extent of work been done. This government and indeed Nigeria cannot afford to toy with the speedy completion of the work on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway!

Uche-Ejeke is Publisher and Editor-in-chief, Agenda Newspapers


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