The federal government is seeking alternative funding for the rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta road, having realised that budgetary provisions would lead to the repair work being abandoned again. The Director, Federal Highways, South West, BusariOlalekan, an Engineer, who represented the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola at the resumption of rehabilitation of the road, recently, assured Julius Berger, the contractor that payment would not stop. Bennett Oghifo reports

The federal government, on May 18, this year, awarded a contract for the total rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Road to Julius Berger at a cost of N22.387 billion and they are expected to complete the job in two and half years (sometime in 2020).

The usual practice is for the government to advance 15 per cent of the contract sum to the contractor, but in this case it has not done so because the paper work is being processed.

The Director, Federal Highways, South West, Busari Olanekan led to the inauguration of works on the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Road, a team of senior ministry officials, including Engineers directly responsible for Lagos and Ogun states- the Federal Controller of Works, Lagos, Adedamola Kuti and the Federal Controller, Works, Ogun, Olukayode Popoola.

Also present were top officials of Julius Berger Plc., led by the Divisional Manager, West Operations, Mr. Wolfgang Loesser.

“This administration has taken another step to seek alternative funding and if you recall, 25 federal roads are being executed through Suku-funded programme. Government is working on a daily basis to ensure that road infrastructure is funded not only through budget provision but through other sources. I can assure you that it is what will be used in all these critical roads.”

The total rehabilitation, according to Busari, would begin at Ile Zik/kilometer 0 to kilometer 80 in Ogun at Brewery. The work is in two sections, 20 kilometres from Ile Zik to Ota and another 60 kilometres from there to Brewery in Abeokuta.

“The federal government is ready to properly fund this road project proactively.”

This very important Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Road had suffered a lot of setbacks, said Busari, but that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration resolved to fix it as part of its promise to provide infrastructure.

He said the rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta road began in early 1999 and that the first contract was awarded in 2000. The first section, awarded in 2009 to Julius Berger was for the rehabilitation of the Ota-Abeokuta stretch at N11.6 billion. “However, due to lack of funding, the project dragged until 2010 and was completed at a contract sum of N14.6 billion. “Addendum two was awarded in 2006, consisting of the rehabilitation/construction of the flyover at Ota and the construction of the roundabout, as well as the strengthening of the Lagos-Ota Road at a sum of N9.2 billion. The contract was eventually completed in 2010. In 2011, section three was awarded at a contract sum of N10.6 billion and the scope of work was to complete the work of section two of phase two, which is the construction of the flyover, as well as the construction of the barrier and the strengthening of Lagos Road.”

He said due to delay in the execution of the project from lack of funding, the job stopped in 2012.

The Julius Berger, Divisional Manager, West Operations, Mr. Wolfgang Loesser said his company had been on the road for a very long time, “we hope that this time we will finish this project in record time for the good of the people who are living in this axis.”

Loesser confirmed that his company received the contract award on May 8 and that they immediately moved to site, conducting palliative works on some sections that were very badly damaged. At the same time they are setting up their site installations to enable them begin actual construction.

“The first step is to see that the road is drained; the drainages are in terrible state. We need to remove water from the road to make it motorable and from there we will begin in full swing with the rehabilitation.”