Everything should be done to contain the flood

The perennial flooding of some sections of the 127.6 km Lagos-Ibadan expressway may wash away the trillions of Naira the federal government has sunk into this road which has defied completion in decades. After a recent downpour which flooded the Long Bridge section of  the Berger-Mowe end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, several vehicles were trapped in a gridlock, leaving several commuters stranded. With the water almost at the same level with the bridge as vehicles moved through it at a slow pace, it was a harrowing experience. Meanwhile, Nigerians seem oblivious to issues of environment even when the country continues to be ravaged by multiple climate-induced extreme weather conditions, particularly flooding that annually claim hundreds of lives besides displacing millions.

The expressway passes through Lagos, Ogun, and Oyo States, and it is regarded as the busiest interstate road in the country and the major connection route between the northern, southern, and eastern parts of Nigeria. While the expressway has been under construction for decades, going by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) timelines, it was expected to have been completed by the last quarter of 2023. Regardless, work is still in progress on the road, and it is broken into two sections. According to NSIA which claimed 94 per cent completion as of the last quarter of 2023, the first section is 43.6 kilometres long – from Lagos to Shagamu, and involves the rehabilitation, reconstruction, and extension of 43.6 kilometres dual carriageway, being constructed by Julius Berger Nigeria Plc.

The second section is 84 kilometres long and it is from Shagamu to Ibadan. This involves the rehabilitation, reconstruction, and extension of the dual carriageway, being constructed by Reynolds Construction Company Nigeria Ltd (RCC). The project has attained 94 per cent completion on this section as of the third quarter of 2023.

The road is expected to enhance significant economic activities and support seamless movement of people in and out of Lagos.

Indeed, the expressway project is expected to enhance regional and infrastructure development in Lagos, Ogun, and Oyo States through the development and commercialisation of the Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan corridor, boost economic activity, and reduce travel time as well as improve health and safety along the route. The project has the potential to yield between 36,000 and 82,000 direct and indirect jobs. But this huge investment is being threatened by perennial flooding. More disturbing is that there are no concerted efforts for a lasting solution.

The country is already ranked as very susceptible to the impact of climate change by several vulnerability indexes produced by global research organisations. Major highways in the country are now heavily compromised by flood. The Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Olukorede Keisha, has blamed the flooding of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway on dumping of refuse or waste papers on the bridge while Afolabi O. Adedeji, a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, believes that the river beneath the Long Bridge contributes to the challenge. Every river, he said, has its flood plain, as well as its catchment area. “Where there is a lot of housing development on the foregoing, it limits the capacity of the soil to rapidly absorb excess rainwater. Other factors are climate change, unusual weather patterns, rising ocean and sea levels, among others,” Adedeji argued.

All things considered, it is important for the federal government to investigate and find out what the problem truly is. Thereafter, the contractor should be made to put in all necessary measures to contain the problems.

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