‘Work On Lagos-Ibadan Road Starts August’
By Jaiyeola Andrews, Abeokuta, Gboyega Akinsanmi and Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Lagos
President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua has directed Ogun State Governor, Gbenga Daniel, to order trailer drivers at Ogere to move their vehicles from the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to their new location, as work will commence on the expressway next month.
Also, Governor Babatunde Fashola has said the deplorable state of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway has become a major threat to the national economy.
Fashola's statement came after the Federal Government inspection team led by Minister of Works, Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Hassan Lawal, was yesterday prevented from inspecting the road following the heavy traffic around the area.
President Yar'Adua during his one-day working visit to Ogun State yesterday, where he inaugurated the newly completed ultra-modern secretariat, said the reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was important to his administration which had infrastructural provision as a major component of its seven-point agenda.
According to the President who arrived at the Oke Mosan venue of the event in a chopper at exactly 12.15 pm, “I have been informed that work will start on the express road next month. May I appeal for further support and cooperation from the state government especially in moving away the trailers on the road to their new location?”
He thanked Daniel for the cooperation that the state had been giving to Bi-Courtney Limited, the concessionaire of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
“Concessioning will allow us to take advantage of the expertise and resources of the private sector to provide and maintain physical infrastructure needed to improve the productive capacities of our people and grow our economy,” Yar'Adua said.
The President explained that the concessioning would also expand the resources available to government to invest in deepening human capacity of the nation.
Commenting on the need for a virile civil service, the President said no society could progress without an efficient and effective civil service and that necessary investment must be made on it.
He said the newly built secretariat by the Daniel administration symbolised a necessary move away from the tradition of running down the civil service which some people often described as corrupt to making necessary provision for the service to achieve excellence.
In his address, Daniel said his administration hadin the last six years enjoyed tremendous support from the state work force.
Meanwhile, former President Olusegun Obasanjo was welcomed to the venue of the inauguration with loud ovation from the crowd.
This may not be unconnected with speculations in some quarters that the former President might not honour the invitation from the state government to be part of the occasion.
Dressed in white flowing agbada, Obasanjo sat calmly and did not utter a word while the event lasted, except some hush conversation between him and Yar'Adua.
Yar'Adua and the former President inspected the secretariat after the inauguration.
Fashola while responding to the minister's call for collaboration in finding lasting solution to the perennial vehicular traffic problems on the Apapa -Oshodi expressway urged the National Assembly to consider the matter as a national emergency by approving supplementary appropriation to fix
The inspection team, which included the Chairman of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and former Governor of Niger State, Mr. Abdulkadir Kure, and the Managing Director of FERMA, was in the state to see things for themselves.
However, the inspection team ran into a heavy traffic that was occasioned by the heavily flooded road and despite spirited efforts by the police escort and Lagos State Traffic Management Authorities (LASTMA) officials to make way for the team, it became difficult to proceed beyond the Mile Two fly-over bridge.
Fashola, while welcoming the Federal Government's intervention, spoke on the need for an urgent appropriation to make funds available for the repair of the road which he said was of very great economic importance to the nation.
“I feel the compelling need to make a suggestion that the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway be considered a national emergency because of its strategic importance as a major link way to the Apapa Seaport.
“Not only do we have congestion at the seaports, even what comes out of it cannot be taken out because the road network is almost impassable. To have a combination of failure in land and sea transport will pose a real danger to the national economy,” he said.
The governor said the actual impact of the breakdown of the Apapa road would soon manifest as the Christmas season draws near with the increasing demands for imports.
“As we approach the second half of the year, and towards the December period, the ports will likely witness massive importation of goods which will need to be moved through the road that is in bad state. There is a threat of an imminent social crisis on our hands unless something urgently is done to fix the road,” he said.
The minister, however, said the team of engineers and technical personnel despatched to look at the extent of damage on the road brought up a disturbing issue in their report which was that some Federal Government agencies had colluded with some individuals in the abuse of the right of way and encroachment on the expressway.
He said the actions of the agencies coupled with the practice of indiscriminate dumping of refuse by companies doing business along the road had resulted in the destruction of drainage system and subsequently the heavy flooding that was being witnessed at present.
“We have received a report from the team sent to evaluate the causes of the problem on the Apapa-Oshodi expressway that some Federal Government agencies have been aiding and abetting the abuse of the right of way and this has resulted in activities that led to the unwholesome damage to the drainage system.
“I want to assure you that we will take necessary steps to ensure that any federal agency or firm that is involved in the abuse of the right of way of the road is made to pay for it immediately,” he said.
“We are soliciting the cooperation of Lagos State government to help ensure that all those found guilty of the abuses on the road are brought to book. We will make sure that no matter whose ox is gored, we will not allow anybody to abuse the right of way on the road,” he added.
He said apart from the fact that the road was suffering from stress associated with aging; the constant heavy traffic had compounded the matter leading to a near crisis situation.
According to the minister, Lagos is the still considered as the commercial capital of the country, while the Apapa road remains the most strategic link way to the nation's largest seaport which is very critical to the overall economic survival of Nigeria.
In this regard, Lawal said government had awarded the contract to a firm, Messrs Borini Porno Nigeria Limited, to commence palliative work on the road, adding that the contractor had already moved to site.| Article source