• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Lagos-Badagry Expressway: As December 2021 ends

FEC approves concession of 9 federal roads, targets N11.54trn revenue

We wish to recall that, one of the first ports of call by Babajide Sanwo-Olu on assumption of office as Governor of Lagos, Nigeria’s sprawling commercial city, was the Lagos-Badagry Expressway project.

That was way back in 2019. The Governor has repeated such visits to that project again and again which, we think, underscores the interest he has in it and his strong determination to complete and deliver the project that has dragged on for 12 years.

In 2019, the Governor pledged that the project would be completed in December of that year. But for some reasons, that did not happen, possibly, because of Covid-19 which impacted negatively on all construction activities in 2020.

However, the Governor assured early this year that the project would be completed by December. Now, December is not only here, but has only a few days before it ends and the world will inevitably bid goodbye to 2021.

However, it is heart-warming to note that a lot has been done on that expressway and a lot more is being done since the Sanwo-Olu administration took over the project after four whole years of complete inertia, occasioned by former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

From Mile-2 up to Barracks, the expressway which is being rehabilitated and expanded from four to 10 lanes could pass easily as a completed project, which is why the state’s transport agency, LAMATA, is currently test-running its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on that route albeit, with serious challenges.

Businesses, motorists and sundry commuters are happy and are commending the state government for what has been done so far. It raises hope of better days to come for both the people and businesses in that axis, especially those who are into property investment and development.

Though we commend Governor Sanwo-Olu for how far work has gone on the expressway, we cannot but frown at the delay the construction work has suffered and the consequent bodily pain endured by Lagosians

But there are still causes for concern which we share. Like other Lagos residents, we are worried that the December deadline is not going to be realistic given the enormity of work that the contractor still has to contend with.

The whole stretch of the expressway from Volks to the mini-Amagedon called Iyana-Iba is, unarguably, a highway to hell. Though the contractor is quite upbeat with heavy construction on bridges and flyovers at Iyana-Iba, so much work remains to be done between this Iyana-Iba and Okokomaiko. Moreover, a major sore-point exists between Iyana-Iba and Okokomaiko. This is the dreaded, Alaba-Arago which is now a conquered territory by folks from a particular part of the country who have turned the place into a residential area, a market, a car/motorcycle washing depot and artisans village!

Read also: Sanwo-Olu directs full excision on untitled land in Lagos

Besides the shanties built on walkways, vehicles are parked indiscriminately on the road with over 5,000 motorcycles (okada) and more than 1,000 cars, buses, lorries, and trailers struggling to move on the less than 50 percent of the road left for them.

These are the enormous challenges, which commuters face on daily basis on this expressway. Thus, though we commend Governor Sanwo-Olu for how far work has gone on the expressway, we cannot but frown at the delay the construction work has suffered and the consequent bodily pain endured by Lagosians.

After 12 years, the Expressway has joined the league of perpetual construction sites in Nigeria with far-reaching implications for residents, local property market and the economy of the state at large.

When in 2009, the contract was awarded for the reconstruction and expansion of the expressway, the joy of residents along the expressway was unparalleled. Expectation was that the project would open up the area and the West African market to Nigerian businesses and traders, and impact positively on property values, economic, commercial and social activities of the people.

In our view, the project has lasted for too long, more so when placed side-by-side with a similar project in Ethiopia that was awarded at the same time and has since been completed and put to use many years ago.

In spite of everything, we still take the state government by its words; we believe them totally and urge them not to renege on the promise made to hapless Lagos residents in that axis whose daily suffering as a result of that endless construction is better left to the imagination.

The major means of transportation on that axis today is okada, which has infested the area like ants, frequently causing major disruption in construction activities and further delaying the completion of the project.

The economic importance of that expressway to the West African sub-region cannot be over-emphasised. It is Nigeria’s gateway to Seme, Benin Republic, Ghana, Togo and others. The state government should see its early completion as not just a moral duty, but also part of its efforts to boost international economic activities that could also increase its own GDP. We also urge the Governor to be conscious of its place in History.

We were excited to hear that part of the money (tax credit) from NNPC would be used to fix highways in Nigeria would in turn be deployed to the completion of this expressway. We urge early release of that money so that the suffering of Nigerians on that expressway would end before the next rainy season.

It is our belief that the completion of this project will impact positively on the economy of Lagos because, apart from the regional trade that will be boosted, many companies have already positioned themselves to take advantage of the expressway while many more will relocate to the axis.

Besides, many Lagos citizens have invested in property in this corridor, only waiting for the expressway to be completed so they can move in. From these prospective residents and businesses, the state government will be generating enormous revenue that will enable it to provide more road infrastructure and other social amenities for the citizens. Therefore, Governor Sanwo Olu, history beckons, rise to the occasion and complete this vital critical highway, soonest!