Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen
By Bennett Oghifo
The federal government has set up a project delivery team to rework the concession of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway redevelopment, claiming that the construction period agreed to in the contract with the preferred bidder, Bicourtney Limited expires next year.
Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen who stated this during the week in Lagos, in a chat with some journalists, explained: “It is true that in September 2009, the federal government went into a concession agreement with Bicourtney Limited, the successful concessionaire for that expressway and the construction period was expected to last for about four years under the terms of the contract agreement. That agreement still stands and operative, but we know that the concession has not gone the way that we contemplated. And as we speak, the federal government is not resting but working to ensure that road is delivered under whatever arrangement.”
Onolememen said three weeks ago, a project delivery team for the road was set up and that he had inaugurated a project steering committee for the road on Wednesday.
“This time, unlike in 2009, during the build-up to that concession agreement when we did not have a transaction adviser, we now have a transaction adviser on that particular road. It is a firm that has performed that role in many successful concessions around the world; in South Africa, East Africa, in Asia, Europe and America. So, we are availing ourselves of the best professional expertise that you can ever have in this kind of transaction to help ensure that the federal government gets the best with that particular concession, because that particular road ought to be the flagship of all road concessions in this country.”
Thus, the government, he said was still determined to ensure that the road concession worked. “I want to assure you that even before the expiration of the four-year construction period contemplated in the original agreement with Bicourtney, the way forward would have been found and the end result would be the expansion and beautification of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway in such a way that it will serve the needs of Nigerian road users.”
On clamour of the governors of Ogun, Oyo and Ekiti states to be left to rebuild the road, Onolememen said, “on this concession, the state government is not a party, because we are talking about a federal government road with federal right of way that is gazette in law. This is not about politics; this is about governance and it is a federal road and the responsibility for the road rests with the federal government and, I happen to be the federal officer that is discharging that responsibility on behalf of the federal government of Nigeria.”
On the reported request from some South African investors to the federal government to guarantee the Lagos-Ibadan road concessionaire, the minister said, “it is news that South African investors are asking for federal government guarantee. I am not aware of such request, because if there is such request, then it should first of all come to my table.”