Need To Expedite Action On The “Hell” Called Traffic Congestion On Lagos/Shagamu Expressway

There is no denying the fact that the traffic congestion on the Lagos/Shagamu expressway has been horrendous for quite some months now, with typical commute time for people going to work and business places as a journey from Berger bus-stop to Ibafo or vice-versa takes from 1hr to 3hrs. As a result of the unbearable traffic situation, many workers and business people that live around Mowe/Ibafo axis in Ogun State portion of the expressway have been responding to the situation by leaving their homes as early as 5.30am, thus exposing their lives to deadly hoodlums in order to avoid the chaotic situation the road is characterized with. Worse still, on a bad day, those that work in Lagos, despite leaving central Lagos by 6.00pm, get home as late as 1.00am the next day.

Despite leaving their various homes early, to catch up with various appointments, the majority are usually caught up in traffic jams, resulting in loss of man-hours, fuel and pollution that cost our economy yet to be estimated amount through the retrogressive situation, and when estimated it may hover around billions of Naira.

To explanatorily put the background of the situation in this context, it is expedient to say that Julius Berger was contracted by the federal government to rehabilitate and reconstruct the 43.6 km stretch of the Lagos to Shagamu portion of the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway. The project, as gathered from Julius Berger, includes expansion of the highway to three lanes in both directions, as well as maintenance and construction of several bridges and flyovers.

“As a main artery of Nigeria’s road network, the vital expressway withstands a heavy volume of vehicle traffic, including those with high axle loads. Construction requires a sustainable solution reflective of the general environmental and specific traffic related needs of the dual carriageway. To address this need, Julius Berger carried out a parameter studies to establish baselines for the development of an enhanced asphalt design. As a result, a new and improved asphalt mix-design was formulated to optimise the rutting resistance and durability of the road. To further improve long-term performance, the expressway will feature an extra asphalt base course with a thickness of 15 cm, in addition to the two asphalt layers made of a binder and wearing course, which are standard for road construction in Nigeria.

“On-site, the Company has set-up an asphalt production plant and a bitumen mixing plant for self-production of the approximately 16,000 t of customized polymer modified bitumen. Highly detailed planning and traffic management allow works to proceed while minimizing effects on road users and to ensure access to the local business along the highway in order to preserve the livelihood of local commerce and the overall economic activities of the country”.

As gathered, the duration of the project is 30 months but it is unfortunate that no one can precisely say when the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the road commenced. It suffices to say that an independent enquiry carried out by this writer revealed that the work started, either in 2013 or 2014. Even at that, it is not an exaggeration to say that the project time of 30 months has so far expired from the estimation of a layman, so to say, as no one know the basis of the calculation used to arrive at the duration of 30 months. To me, the federal government and Julius Berger should be honest enough about when the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the road would be completed. The reason for this call cannot be farfetched as work on the expressway has ceaselessly been ongoing.

It would be recalled that when the minister of works and housing, Babatude Fashola embarked on an inspection tour on the project, two months ago, precisely in November 2020, that he assured that the federal government was committed to completing the project, and added that the drop in crude oil prices cannot be a barrier to its completion. The minister made the disclosure in an interactive town hall meeting with stakeholders at Ogere in Ogun State.

He said Section 1 of the project was the rehabilitation, reconstruction, and expansion of the Lagos-Ibadan dual carriageway of about 43.6km commencing from the old-toll gate at Oregun/Ikosi-Ketu Lagos and terminating at Shagamu Interchange in Ogun State, and explained that the second phase was 84km, starting from Sagamu Interchange to Ibadan, and was being handled by RCC.

“The rehabilitation, construction, and expansion of Lagos- Ibadan dual carriageway, construction of 2nd Niger Bridge and the rehabilitation, construction, and expansion of Abuja-Kaduna-Kano dual carriageway are strategic infrastructure development projects of Mr. President.

“These Highway projects are financed with the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), funded from the Sovereign Wealth Fund and they are National Priority Highway projects,” he said.

He at the time urged contractors to finish the work on time, as it would help ease travellers’ discomfort as the year comes to an end.

“Your contractors should remember that you do this work for the people and that you must be passionate in doing it by easing the trauma people go through while on the road,” he added.

In as much as the minister has assured the people, particularly those living within the axis where the reconstruction works are been carried out, it is expedient to say in this context that enough of rhetoric has being heard concerning the reconstruction. What the people expect at the moment is for both the government and Julius Berger to put heads together, and think of how the road can expeditiously be completed.

The reason for this call cannot be farfetched as for some time now motorists and residents living along the expressway have been passing through hell as a result of the ongoing reconstruction work on the road. It is not as if they just started experiencing the tough times. The suffering and problems have been there all these years but it is more horrendous now than ever before. In fact, the suffering seems to have come to a climax in the last few weeks.

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Articles by Isaac Asabor