• Monday, May 27, 2024
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BusinessDay

Like Fashola, Ambode to go without N844bn 4th Mainland Bridge

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With six more months to stay in Government House, Alausa, incumbent Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, like his predecessor, Babatunde Fashola, will go without the long promised 4th Mainland Bridge.

But unlike Fashola, Ambode came close to making the project a reality when his administration signed an agreement with a consortium of investors in May 2016 to start the construction of the bridge. His government terminated the contract one year after it was signed, citing ‘delay’ in commencement of work by the consortium. It subsequently announced it was in talks with other local and international investors who have submitted bids for the project and would unveil a new preferred bidder in June. It never did, even as it has kept mute on the project since April this year.

By May 2019 when Ambode is expected to hand over to a new government, Lagosians would have waited for 20 years since the Bola Tinubu-led government (1999-2007) mooted the idea to build the bridge without making it real.

READ ALSO: Lagos 2019 budget caught in web of politics as governance slows

This is as the population of the state is now estimated at over 21 million people, with a high vehicular density of 264 vehicles per kilometer of roadway as at 2016, according to Lagos Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (LAMATA). The increasing population as well as high car density, coupled with inadequate infrastructure has thrown up unprecedented traffic congestions which the municipal government has been unable to find a solution.

Analysts are of the view that with the state’s population project to hit 30 million people by 2030, Lagos will be a hell of place to live in and do business unless drastic measures in terms of infrastructure development are taken to ameliorate the traffic crisis.

The 36km 4th Mainland had been conceived as part of such measures. It was designed to take traffic between mainland and island parts of the state and complement the three existing bridges- Eko, Carter and Third Mainland Bridges which are daily overstretched.

Checks by BusinessDay within the state ministry of works and infrastructure reveals state of uncertainty around the 4th Mainland Bridge project, as the government is yet to select a preferred bidder who should have been announced in May or June, according to Adebowale Akinsanya, the commissioner for works and infrastructure.

Specifically, Akinsanya while briefing journalists on Wednesday April 18, 2018, had said: “We have received a number of proposals for the project.

As I speak, we’re at the last phase of selecting the preferred bidder. I believe this would be announced to the public by either May or June”.

The commissioner’s assurance had elicited expectation from Lagosians but all that is fading away, as request made toAkinsanya yesterday to give updates on the project was not responded to.

Under the previous contract cancelled in May 2017, the bridge would have cost about N844 billion to build. The consortium included Visible Asset Limited, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Hi-tech Construction Limited, J.P. Morgan, Eldorado Nigeria Limited, Nigerian Westminster Dredging and Marine, Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) and Access Bank. The government had cited delay in the commencement of work by the investors as reason for the termination of the contract.

The 4th Mainland Bridge was conceived by Tinubu who could not get it started. His predecessor, Fashola (2007 -2015) eventually drew up the design/alignment but failed to take it beyond that level.

The alignment is to pass through Lekki, Langbasa and Baiyeiku towns along the shoreline of the Lagos Lagoon estuaries, further running through Igbogbo River Basin and crossing the Lagos Lagoon estuaries to Itamaga Area in Ikorodu. The alignment would further cross through the Itoikin road and the Ikorodu -Sagamu Road to connect Isawo inward Lagos Ibadan Expressway at Ojodu Berger axis.

Ambode  made the first breakthrough in May 2016 when he signed a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with a consortium of investors to fund the construction of the bridge at the cost of N844 billion.  The investors were to Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) the infrastructure back to the state government after 40 years of recouping their investment. However, one year after in May 2017, the agreement, the government terminated the contract.