April 09, (THEWILL) – The challenges facing motorists and commuters plying the ever-busy Lagos-Ibadan Expressway are better imagined than experienced. The pain which road users are made to endure on the 127.6-kilometre thoroughfare that has been undergoing reconstruction since the inception of the Muhammadu Buhari Administration almost eight years ago, is, to admit the truth, excruciating.
The project actually started in 2013 but was abandoned and re-awarded by the Buhari Administration. But, despite the challenges, the only word from the authorities in charge is that the poor road users should continue to “bear with us.” One wonders for how long Nigerians will continue to endure such experience that is making their lives so nasty, brutish and short.
Just like the proverbial Nigerian problem that has defied all solutions, the reconstruction work on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway has become a nightmare not only to visitors coming into Lagos but also those living in the adjoining communities along the expressway that is now a major gateway to Nigeria’s commercial capital.
While the Ibadan to Sagamu Interchange axis of the road that was handled by Reynold Construction Company (RCC) has since been completed, the Sagamu Interchange to Lagos section currently handled by Julius Berger is far from being completed. Everyday motorists are subjected to life-threatening conditions with grave implications for the health and businesses of road users.
Precious lives are being wasted on a daily basis on the road via avoidable accidents and exposure to dangerous fumes and emissions from articulated vehicles. Ongoing work at the Ogun State end of the road has until recently been at snail-speed and frustrating. Without any provision for alternative routes, motorists continue to waste valuable man hours and time in the gridlock that has unfortunately become the most feasible feature of the road.
Several promises of early completion and ease of movement on the road have not been fulfilled and Nigerians now seem to have resigned to fate, especially in a situation where there is a trust issue between the government and the people. An example was the latest promise by the Minister of Works , Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, who said that work on the road would be completed by April 30.
However, a few days after his promise, following his inspection of the progress of work, the entire stretch of the Lagos end of the road was on total lockdown, starting from the OPIC-Kara end down to Ikorodu Road as motorists going out of Lagos for the holidays on Good Friday spent several hours in the crazy gridlock that simply refused to flow.
We condemn in strong terms the harrowing experience that road users are being subjected to by Julius Berger, the contractor handling construction work at the Ogun and Lagos ends of the expressway. The initial slow pace of work has resulted in non-completion of the project till this moment. We are not in any way convinced by the reasons given by the company for the delay. Road construction projects should be executed with a human face and Nigerians should not be unnecessarily placed under a harrowing situation.
Although road construction and related projects are services to the public, we believe that such must be done with every sense of responsibility to the environment in which the business operates. No company should see itself as bigger than the interest it is serving. Julius Berger, without any doubt , owes residents living along the expressway and Nigerians plying that route an apology for the pain inflicted on them so far.
We also implore the Federal Government to take full responsibility for the road reconstruction work and impose appropriate sanctions where deadlines for completion are not met. Nigerians cannot continue to suffer in silence while contractors toy with their lives and means of livelihood through sluggish approach to work or by using delay tactics to force the government to pay whatever debt it is owing them.