• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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Why Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is project to watch


For several reasons, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is a major infrastructure project to watch in 2022. One of the reasons is that the 13-year-old reconstruction work on the expressway is expected to end in 2022.

The Federal Government has, on many occasions, assured that work on the expressway would be completed in 2022. This assurance was reiterated recently when Olukayode Popoola, federal controller of works in Lagos, gave reasons for the six-day closure of a section of the expressway in November 2021 to enable the contractor to do his work.

The completion of the expressway, according to the government and infrastructure development experts, would mean a big boost for the economy and a huge relief for motorists.

The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway benefits from the Federal Government’s Highway Development and Management Initiative (HDMI), which Babatunde Fashola, minister of works and housing, says holds opportunities and economic benefits for Nigeria and its citizens.

The Expressway is one of the 12 federal highways with a combined length of 1,963km the Federal Government had concessioned under the initiative.

The other highways are Benin-Asaba, Abuja-Lokoja, Kano-Katsina, Onitsha-Owerri, Shagamu-Benin, Abuja-Keffi-Akwanga, Kano-Shuari, Potiskum-Damaturu, Lokoja-Benin, Enugu-Port Harcourt, Ilorin-Jebba, Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta, and the Lagos-Badagry-Seme Border highway.

Read Also: FG’s infrastructure spend in 6years yields 13,000km of roads – Fashola

Of these highways, Lagos-Ibadan is the most viable economically, being the busiest, the major gateway to other parts of the country, particularly the East and North, and the main facilitator of East-West trade and commerce.

Fashola explained that, as an indigenous Land Value Capture scheme aimed to develop Nigeria’s network of federal highway corridors and boost economic development along the right of way (RoW), HDMI is expected to create thousands of jobs for Nigerians.

“The initiative will open up the highway economy with opportunities in various economic activities, including fabrication of gantries and directional signages with advertising opportunities, towing van operations and auto repair stations, operation of rest areas and emergency services, among others,” he said.

Expectation is that, through HDMI, the Federal Government would leverage private sector funding and participation in the development and maintenance of critical infrastructure across the country.

The initiative, according to the minister, would deliver a safer and enjoyable travel experience for Nigerian road users as travel time would be shortened, cost reduced and commercial activities stimulated.

These are experiences that await motorists as reconstruction tapers to an end on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway where stress and delay define daily motoring and commuting experience.

Besides the HDMI scheme, the Expressway also promises huge revenue for the government as it will benefit from the government’s decision to reintroduce toll gates on highways about 18 years after former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration dismantled them across the country.

The administration scrapped the tollgates, citing corruption. It explained that daily returns of N63 million from the tollgates were not enough, considering the corruption and the inconvenience motorists experienced at such tollgates.

While receiving the Outline Business Case Certificate of Compliance for the 12 pilot federal highways billed for the concession, the minister confirmed the decision to reintroduce tolling on the highways, saying the issuance of the certificate signified the return of the tollgates as concessionaires have to recoup their investments.

Godwin Odinta, an infrastructure development expert, explained to BusinessDay that reintroducing tollgates on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway would create multiple jobs for both skilled and unskilled labour to be drawn from the surrounding towns and villages.

“People are going to plan the toll gates; people are also going to provide the needed infrastructure; there will be people to man the infrastructure while other people will provide security around the operations at the tollgates,” Odinta noted.

Though Joseph Akinteye, former vice president of Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), said Nigeria was not yet ripe for tolling its roads because “we don’t have the technology for maintaining such facilities,” but Dayo Oluyemi, chairman, Nigerian Institution of Highways Transportation Engineers, sees the need for the tolling.

“The entire road network in Nigeria needs alternative sources of funding or there would not be any road again in the country. One of the alternative sources of funding is tolling the road, which is what the government plans to do,” he stressed.

Adedamola Kuti, director of Federal Highways, South West, disclosed that efforts were being intensified to complete projects like the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, adding that designs for the four tollgates were being tidied up.

According to Kuti, the toll gates would not be sited in the previous locations, but would be located immediately after Kara Bridge, before NNPC filling station, another one after the interchange on the Sagamu end, while another one will be towards Ibadan.

Since April 15, 2009, when late Dora Akunyili as minister of information and communication, announced after a Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway had been concessioned, the Expressway has been under reconstruction, making it one of the most enduring construction sites in Nigeria.

The concessionaire on the 105-kilometre road that was constructed in 1974 was Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited (BCHSL). It was concessioned at the cost of N89.53 billion for a period of 25 years under a Design, Build, Operate and Transfer (DBOT) scheme.

But the concessioning turned out to be an agreement that never was, as it was cancelled three years after and the contract for the reconstruction awarded to two contractors—Julius Berger and RCC—who have been working on the Expressway for over a decade now.