The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway which has been undergoing reconstruction in the last nine years is expected to be completed in the last month of 2022 before Christmas, Babatunde Fashola, Nigeria’s minister for works and housing, has said.
The minister, who spoke on Sunday in a Channels’ TV programme tagged ‘Season of Completion, Commissioning and Impact,’ noted however that the expected completion date depended on a lot of variables.
He cited a drainage system being constructed by the Oyo State government which, he said, was slowing the pace of work on the expressway and forcing the contractor to work at night.
He pointed out that part of the delay in the completion of the reconstruction work was the high volume of traffic on the expressway which he estimated at 40,000 a day and so it cannot be closed down completely. He added that the reconstruction project was not well funded.
The 127-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is Nigeria’s oldest road that was commissioned in 1978 by the military government led by Olusegun Obasanjo. Contract for its reconstruction was awarded in 2013 by the Goodluck Jonathan administration at the cost of N315 billion.
Fashola also said that the Second Niger Bridge being constructed in the South Eastern part of the country would also be completed and opened to traffic in the last month of this year before Christmas, quoting an assurance given to him by the contractor handling the project.
According to him, the main bridge with its derk has been completed, adding that what remained to be done was a 5-kilometre road that would link the bridge from the Asaba end and other connecting roads at the Anambra end of the bridge, hoping that all would be ready before the expected completion date.
The minister’s assurance on this bridge corroborates an earlier report by BusinessDay that the completion of the bridge project this year was sacrosanct, quoting Hammakopp, a civil construction, maintenance and fabrication firm, working in partnership with Julius Berger on the bridge.
Ikenna Chukwudum, head of operations at Hammakopp Consortium, who gave this hint at a media parley organized by Hammakopp, stressed that, even though he could not tell the exact month or quarter when the bridge would be ready, he was sure it would be delivered this year.
“To most Nigerians, especially those from the South Eastern part of the country, this is a piece of good news as the completion of the bridge would mean an end to the seasonal gridlock on the ageing 1st Nigeria Bridge that, sometimes, keep travelers on the bridge for days,” Chukwudum observed.
Reminded that whatever gains the Buhari administration might have made in the area of providing infrastructure was being diminished by the security situation in the country, Fashola lamented the situation as it is and sympathized with families whose members have been victims.
But he insisted that the situation is better today than what it was when the present administration came in, advising that insecurity should be viewed beyond carrying guns and killing or taking people hostage.
“We need an intelligent and rigorous conversation on the issue of insecurity to see what role is played by our value system, religious beliefs, and drug addiction,” he said, noting that religion, particularly, should be made to leave public space for people’s homes and worship centres where it belongs.