Oyo Drainage Work Delaying Lagos-Ibadan Expressway Completion

The Federal Government yesterday attributed the delay in the completion of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to drainage channel being constructed at the Ibadan axis of the ever-busy road by the Oyo State Government.

“The Oyo State Government is building a drainage channel across the road. So, we are having difficulties because the contractor has slowed down and we have to slow down too,” said Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola.

Fashola, however, said that construction of the Second Niger Bridge and rehabilitation of the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Dual Carriageway had been completed.

He added that while 12 road projects covering about 896 kilometres had been completed and inaugurated, 83   in Federal Government-owned tertiary institutions were being rehabilitated.

Sixty-six others in the institutions, according to him,  have also been completed.

The minister spoke at the inaugural edition of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration Scorecard 2015-2023 Series in Abuja.

The event which features ministers and other top government officials was organised by the  Ministry of Information and Culture to showcase the achievements of the All Progressives Congress(APC) administration as it winds down.

Fashola pointed out that the Change Agenda, which was unfolded in the Ministry of Works and Housing in 2015 as part of the larger objective of the Buhari administration, was to grow the economy.

Pointing out that the 127.6-kilometre  Lagos-Ibadan Expressway had recorded a lot of progress,  the minister appealed to motorists and commuters to endure the delays being encountered at the Ibadan and Lagos ends of the road.

He said: “We do not want to finish the road and come back to destroy it for the drainage channel construction.

“On the Lagos axis, we are working on the last six kilometres into Lagos. You know that axis is very densely populated.  We left it for the last because we knew it to be the most difficult.

“We are appealing that you bear with us and we are hoping that very soon there will be relief there.’’

Fashola assured that the Second Niger Bridge, one of the legacy projects of the   Buhari administration, would be opened to the public in December.

He explained that the bridge could not be put to use now until a four-kilometre link road on its Asaba, Delta State axis was repaired.

The link road, according to him, was negatively impacted by the recent flood that hit most states in the country, including Delta.

Fashola denounced claims in some quarters that the Buhari administration abandoned projects by the Goodluck Jonathan government.

He said:  ”I can confirm that the second Niger Bridge itself is finished. People can walk through the bridge now unimpeded. What remains is the four-kilometre link road on the Asaba side.

“Right now, our dredger is in place, we have to rebuild the road by reclaiming sand. The recent surge of flood slowed us down. On the Onitsha side, there is a seven-kilometre road that links the bridge and the Onitsha-Owerri interchange.”

The minister, who noted the impact of low budget on road construction in the country, said it is only in 2002 that N200bn was appropriated for roads.

He said:  ”It  seems that as our income from oil prices increased over the last decade, our spending on roads decreased

”As far as status reports go, the Federal Government budgeted N18.132bn in 2015 and the Ministry of Works got N13bn for all roads and highways in 2015, although it has contracts for 206 roads, covering over 6,000 kilometres with a contract price of over N2trillion.

“Our ability to achieve connectivity of roads depends on capital spending in 2016 to pay contractors and get them back to work.”

On what he met  the ground in 2015 when he became minister, Fashola said he could not forget a company that “laid off 4,000 workers because the government was owing it N3 billion.”

He, however, remarked that in spite of fund paucity, the government had been able to carry out high-impact projects like the construction and expansion of the Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Dual Carriageway in Ogun State, Shagamu-Ibadan Dual Carriageway in Oyo State and   the  Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Dual Expressway.

Fashola said: “ The Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway was either totally non-existent or in a deteriorated state and today, the Buhari administration has demonstrated that needed political will to break the jinx on our nation’s historically most difficult projects.

“Does it not stand to reason to conclude that the party, which formed the government deserves to continue to deliver to the people of Nigeria these life-defining infrastructure.”

He assured that the Bodo-Bonny Island road would be completed to improve socio-economic connectivity and commerce in Bodo, Rivers State.

The minister noted that for centuries, the island had not been accessible by road until the  Buhari administration came on board.

“This is the island where the famous King Jaja of Opobo used to dominate, centuries ago.

“Bonny Island is one of the places where very vast resources are produced in the economy of Nigeria in terms of natural gas.

“For the first time, this government is building a road and jetties of 39 kilometers combined into the island,” Fashola added.

He listed alternative sources of funding for road projects including the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund,  SUKUK fund, Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme (RITCS),   Multi-lateral loans/grants, and collaboration with other government agencies like the Northeast Development Commission.

Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed had in his opening remarks, said: “As the administration winds down, we believe it’s very important to consolidate our efforts at showcasing these achievements.

”In the words of President  Buhari, this administration has implemented high-impact projects across the length and breadth of the country that meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.

”In the din of politicking, naysayers have attempted to play down the massive and unprecedented achievements of this administration.”

Some presidential candidates, he said, have even released “a poorly-done photocopy of this administration’s achievements as their own blueprint.

”There have been attempts in some circles to downplay the achievements of this administration. I have no doubt that history will be fairer and posterity will be kind to us.

“Those whose trips have been shortened and smoothened by good roads and bridges will remember those who built those roads and bridges; those who use the modern terminals at our airports will remember who built them.

“Those who ride on modern trains along Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna, and Itakpe-Warri will not forget those who made that happen.

“And the 9.8 million school children who are fed daily, the 1 million youth that have been empowered as well as the 500,000 who are undergoing trainings under the N-Power and the 1,632,480 households that have been enrolled in the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme will not forget.”

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