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Lagos-Ibadan expressway shutdown begins tomorrow

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[FILES] Lagos-Ibadan Expressway construction


• Motorists Express Fears
• FRSC Assures Of Alternative Routes

For the third time in 11 months, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway will from tomorrow, September 2 be shut-down partially for four months, to enable the contractor, Julius Berger Plc., commence rehabilitation work on a section of the major carriageway. The ever-busy expressway has suffered serious neglect over the years as little efforts were made to update the facility to meet the demands of about 250, 000 vehicles going in and out of Lagos, servicing the North, East and South South states on daily basis.
  
The closure of the Lagos section of the 127.6 km road, arguably the busiest in the country, previously scheduled for August 3, 2019, was put off as it clashed with Eid el Kabir, and the annual convention of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).  

According to the Federal Controller of Works, Lagos State, Mr. Adedamola Kuti, the postponement was meant to “show sensitivity to Nigerians and to make provision for an effective traffic management.” On Sunday, September 2, 2018, the Sagamu-bound carriage way was closed for 18 weeks and re-opened on Tuesday, January 15, 2019. There was a partial opening for the Christmas and New Year holidaysThis was followed by another two-day closure, which lasted between May 22 and 24, 2019, when the section from Magboro to Kara, and Ibafo was shut for laying of asphalt surface.After that, the July 22, 2019 announcement of a 120-day closure was made.

   
The Guardian learnt that the section scheduled to be worked on, is from Berger Bus Stop, to Ogun River Bridge, otherwise known as Kara Bridge, close to Kara Cattle Market. The affected section has already been demarcated in readiness for tomorrow’s closure, baring any other issue that might warrant postponement.

Without doubt, motorists and other road users would from tomorrow be subjected to serious difficulties in this already challenged axis, which many have already accused Julius Berger Plc (which handles the Lagos portion of the road) of slow pace of work, and deliberately causing motorists untold hardship, compared to Reynolds Construction Company (RCC), (handling the other section of the road to Ibadan, Oyo State), which has succeeded in rehabilitating the Ibadan-Sagamu interchange end of the highway.
 
Rehabilitation of the road started about 16 years ago during the first term of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The exercise was later abandoned due to alleged misappropriation of allocated funds.  Former President Goodluck Jonathan, in 2013, rekindled hopes when he cancelled the earlier concession agreement with Bi-Courtney Consortium owing to what was termed “serial breaches of the concession agreement.”
  
The contract was thereafter awarded to Julius Berger Plc., and RCC in the sum of N167b, and was to accommodate the two sections of the expressway (Section I-Lagos to Sagamu Interchange and Section II-Sagamu Interchange to Ibadan).The project was inherited by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, and despite huge sums budgeted so far spent, the road is currently not near completion.
 
The Guardian tour of the entire road, last week, revealed that Julius Berger has done some work on the Sagamu Interchange to the Kara section; Sagamu Road close to Christopher University, around the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) office in Mowe; Asese and Magboro section, and a segment of the long bridge. 
 
The contractors are currently working from the FRSC Unit Command office premises towards the RCCG Car Park C. They are also working on the left side of Ibafo, around the pedestrian bridge. At the other section, the RCC, based on work done within the Ogun State axis of the expressway has successfully rehabilitated the section from Onigari, a border town with Oyo State up to Fidiwo/Sancrest, before Ogere. Beyond this area, it has covered much ground towards the Ibadan tollgate.
  
A motorist, Orimolade Aderibigbe said the closure would seriously hamper free flow of traffic, urging road users to brace up for the four-month long agony.A civil servant, Jelili Olakunle, who resides in Mowe, advised road users, especially public servants to map out strategies that would withstand challenges that the road closure would pose.
 
Efforts to get comments from Julius Berger on the level of preparedness for the closure were unsuccessful.Workers at the Ibafo site refused to speak, and a top official of the construction company, Solace Orlu, who was contacted on phone said he had no authority to speak to journalists. But the Sector Commander, Ogun FRSC, Clement Oladele, told The Guardian that the exercise was not “a closure per se, rather a diversion of traffic to enable rehabilitation work on the carriageway.”He allayed motorists’fears, noting that the rehabilitation of the entire corridor was segmented to prevent motorists from suffering unduly due to the diversion.
 
He said: “The duration of the diversion depends on the length of the segment being rehabilitated, traffic density, or population of residents around the area being rehabilitated, and the nature of rehabilitation work to be carried out, including soil texture, level of damage in area to be rehabilitated and other such considerations. 
 
“Most of the diversion periods have been on the average 90 days, but the September 2 diversion is expected to be about 120 days or 16 weeks. No doubt it would impair traffic flow, but the FRSC assisted by sister traffic and emergency agencies would be visible so as to ameliorate the hardship that motorists may face since the carriageway is expected to narrow down…”

 
Oladele said motorists could still continue to use the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway at the diversion points from Berger to the Ogun river bridge corridor, recommending that any motorist that wishes to use alternative corridors, should use the Victoria Island-Lekki-Ajah-Ijebu Ode axis to connect the Sagamu-Ijebu Ode-Ore -Benin corridor.
 
“Motorists can also come in from Lagos-Iyana-Ipaja -Ota-Ifo-Itori-Abeokuta to connect the Sagamu interchange road to either Ibadan, or Ijebu Ode; or Lagos-Ikorodu-Ogijo-Mosinmi-Sagamu to connect Ijebu Ode for those travelling to Benin.
  
“When the road is completed, there would be no need to divert vehicular traffic, but the global best practice is usually to provide alternate corridors to roads that are being rehabilitated, which would be completely shut down. This way, work would be expeditiously carried out on the affected corridor, while safety is also ensured.”


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