THE LAGOS-IBADAN EXPRESSWAY CONUNDRUM
The Lagos-Ibadan expressway deserves urgent attention
The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is yet another expression of our tragic state as a country. The 127.6-kilometre dual-carriage highway has in the last decade been a nightmare to both motorists and commuters. Launched in August 1978 with fanfare by the then military government of General Olusegun Obasanjo when there were yet very few vehicles plying the road, it is appalling that 41 years after, this strategic road now constitutes a source of anguish and torment to its users.
Attempts to reconstruct the road in the past 15 years by successive governments have been characterised by a range of controversies. Whereas it was initially meant to be reconstructed through a concession agreement between the federal government and Bi-Courtney, former President Goodluck Jonathan was compelled to revoke the concession agreement in November 2012 following the failure of Bi-Courtney to commence the reconstruction three years after. In July 2013, the government formally flagged off the reconstruction of the road with 2017 as delivery date. Almost six years after, the reconstruction arrangement which includes extension of the road from the hitherto four-lane to an eight-lane highway is far from being completed. The attendant effects have been frequent fatal accidents and consequent traffic gridlock which often cause motorists and commuters grief and pains.
On April 2, this year for instance, motorists and travellers groaned helplessly for hours following an accident which occurred on Ibafo end of the road. The situation became more chaotic when impatient motorists opted to drive against the traffic. Most disturbing is that despite being handled by two contractors, Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) and Julius Berger, the reconstruction has been unusually slow. Last year, Julius Berger announced that the project would not be completed earlier than 2021, eight years after the reconstruction started, and signifying more years of agony ahead.
The Lagos – Ibadan expressway is very strategic because it is one road which connects all parts of the country. It links the North to the South-west, South-east and South-south. The North, for instance, has its farm produce market in Lagos that can only be linked by the highway while industries which serve all parts of the country are located in Lagos or Ogun State. As the busiest road in the country, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) once reported that at least 25,000 vehicles ply the road every hour.
But the undue delay in the reconstruction efforts is costing the nation so much in terms of lives and time, aspects the authorities do not seem to taken into consideration. In the 2017 budget for instance, instead of using their oversight power to speed up the completion of the project, the National Assembly slashed the allocation from N31 billion to N10 billion.
In saner climes, authorities embark on projects in strict consciousness of the level of discomfort and inconveniences they will cause citizens. Hence, adequate measures are deliberately put in place to cushion the effects of such inconveniences during execution period.
We therefore challenge the federal government to pay required attention to this project and show utmost concern about the lives being wasted on the road on a regular basis. While we commend the Buhari administration for the efforts on road and rail projects across the country, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway should be seen as a priority project.