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Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Expressway: Motorists, commuters lament slow pace of rehabilitation

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Rehabilitated sections of the tollgate… PHOTO: GBENGA AKINFENWA

Residents, motorists and other road users on the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Expressway, are gradually losing their patience over the slow pace of the ongoing rehabilitation work.

Though the Federal Government flagged-off the rehabilitation of the road starting from Ile Zik bus stop, Lagos, to Brewery bus stop, Abeokuta, Ogun State, in May 2018, for a period of two and a half years, but three years after, the rehabilitation work remains work-in-progress.

Though the project was initially awarded to Julius Berger Plc in 1999, it suffered several setbacks over the years, due to paucity of funds. But on May 14, 2018, the project was re-launched by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, at the cost of N22. 387b, with a mobilisation fee of N3.5b.

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The Director, Federal Highways, South West, Olalekan Busari, who flagged-off the rehabilitation project, told journalists then: “The project was divided into two sections, the first section, which starts from Ile Zik, in Lagos State, spans about 20km, while the second section, which falls within Ogun State is 60km.

“It is a complete rehabilitation of the entire road this time around, and it is awarded at the cost of N22.387b, and for a contract period of two and a half years, which we hope the contractor will deliver,” he said.

But nine months after the deadline, the level of work done appear to be below 50 per cent.

When The Guardian visited the area during the week, it was observed that aside the Owode-Iyana Ilogbo stretch, a section of the Ijako tipper axis, Sango tollgate to Amje (ongoing), a section of the Kollington through Salolo, Adura, Casso to Meiran axis and a section of the Obadeyi to Ahmadiyya axis, others have been left to degenerate, especially with the incessant rainfall.

Areas like Sango Motor Park, Joju junction, Ilepa and beyond – all in Ogun State, which are yet to be touched, have become an eyesore. These areas are dotted with potholes and craters of different shapes and sizes.

Currently, the areas under rehabilitation — Sango tollgate to Amje, Lagos; Sona to Ijako market and Meiran to Ahmadiyya, Lagos, are causing more pain to road users. The tollgate seems to be the worst hit for now.

A trip between Sango Motor Park and Kollington bus stop, which shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes, now takes up to two and a half hours, due to the traffic situation caused by the ongoing work on the axis.

To make the matter worst, motorists who navigate through the ILO Awela road to connect Osi-Ota to connect Command in Lagos State have been cut off due to the construction work.

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While some commuter buses and private car owners have abandoned the route, the few who risk navigating through the axis have had tales of woes to tell, as precious hours are wasted on the stretch, on daily basis, just as transport fare has been jerked up.

Some motorists who could not endure the perennial traffic logjam are now taking the Bible College-Abule-Iroko-Ajegunle road, while commuters now alight at the Shoprite/Gateway Hotel bus stop and trek to Amje bus stop to beat the traffic gridlock.

Rehabilitated sections of the tollgate… PHOTO: GBENGA AKINFENWA

It is the same scenario at the Meiran to Ahmadiyya stretch as the popular Ijaiye bus stop is always chaotic, due to the impatience of the yellow buses. But for alternative routes in Ajala and Ahmadiyya bus stop, the situation would have become worse than the tollgate’s scenario.

Also, at the Sona bus stop to Ijako market, though not too long a traffic, but it has added to the agony of road users who spend hours on the road, due to the slow pace of work on the axis.

A banker, Toluwani James, who rues his experience on the road, said passing through the area during the peak hours is always a terrible experience.

“Before now, I usually navigate through the ILO Awela road to link Abule-Egba, but since the section of the road was closed down from the tollgate end, it’s been hell. Now, I trek through the tollgate to Alakuko to get bus. I can’t drive through the area for now.”

A commuter driver, Ajala Obembe said the contractors are not sensitive enough to know the plight of the road users. “There is a way they should have done it to make life easier for the people. Whenever it rains, we are always stranded because the traffic will be static. They need to speed up the work to ease our pain.

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The Federal Controller of Works for Lagos State, Kayode Popoola told The Guardian that the rate of failure on the sections is the cause of the slow pace of work, because the road cannot be fixed within one or two months.

“The public should bear with us, we are also talking to the contractor. The Federal Government is always ready to solve the problem that was why the job was given to one of the reputable contractors in the country. Julius Berger is not a pushover in the country; they know what they are doing. The road users should give them more times.”

But on Thursday, while inspecting the progress of work on the highway, Popoola gave 2022 deadline for the completion of the expressway.

Popoola, who was represented by the Lagos State Project Coordinator, Engineer Wale Adebote, explained that the 18-kilometre road, is in sections, each covering about 14 widths, saying section one starts from Ile-Zik Bus Stop down to Ota flyover.
According to him, the contractors did not commence work on the road since it was awarded, until 2020.

He said the project, sponsored with SUKUK intervention at the earlier stage, is focused on the Abeokuta-Lagos lane in which after its completion, all traffic would be diverted to the lane in order to concentrate on the other Lagos-Abeokuta lane.

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