The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has appealed to members of the public to bear the pains resulting from the inconveniences of construction projects along major highways across the country.
Fashola, who made a live interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, noted that most of the side roads that feed onto the main arterial roads are either state or local government roads.
According to him, one of the things the Federal Executive Council (FEC) will consider today is an “old road” to serve as an alternative route.
“Hopefully, if we get there, I think that will be one option. We mean no harm. The last 6 km into Lagos on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, we deliberately left for the last because we knew it was going to be the most difficult to build because of the traffic, the density, and the human activity there.
“So, whilst places like the Second Niger Bridge and Bodo-Bonny, which are virgin projects, seem to be moving a quite quickly, building through Abuja-Kano, Lagos-Ibadan, Ikorodu-Sagamu or Kano-Maiduguri that are trafficked every day have different logistic challenges.
“The construction site on a highway is a very difficult thing to manage, so you have to cut, divert, build and reopen. Those are the challenges, but we will get there. It’s a bitter pill for a better life,” he said.
Speaking on the ongoing Lagos-Badagry Expressway construction, the former Lagos State governor acknowledged the anxiety felt by the affected commuters, describing their “anxious” anticipation of announced completion dates as understandable.
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“Don’t just take away the announcements we make about what is happening, but also the specifics to it. I had the privilege to start that project for a part of it when I was governor, but unfortunately at the time, not only were resources challenging, we were at the same time trying to build the Lagos rail, at the same time housing and so many things.
“But the main reason why we couldn’t progress beyond the point where I left it around Mile 2 was that we had to relocate water and petroleum pipelines sank under the road pavement itself. But post-that period, the economy has changed in many ways and there are new challenges.
“The Lagos State Government still wants to complete, I think, the first 20-something kilometres up to around Okoko thereabouts, which is what we undertook then to build. Beyond Okoko to the border, we have taken it up now as the Federal Government because it’s a federal road and we left Lagos to deal with that. When they say they will complete (it), it’s that part up to around Okoko. Our responsibility is to complete it to the border.”
According to him, the Lagos-Badagry Expressway is part of a sub-regional road that runs from Lagos to Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
The minister added that there is a plan by the leaders of Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire to finance the redevelopment of the highway through the African Development Bank (AfDB).
“So, we’re working on the design,” he said. “The construction that we’re undertaking now is being factored into the design that will be financed.”
Asked to give a deadline, Fashola said, “I wish I could (give a deadline), but we expect to complete before the end of this term. Some of the headways we are facing there. In January, when we return the barriers, we will have to manage traffic and in that traffic, we will have to get construction materials from Ogun.
“That construction material drives through the same traffic that commuters drive through. On the Ibadan end, the Oyo State Government is constructing a drainage channel across the highway. We need that drainage channel to be constructed before we finish the road, otherwise, it will mean completing the road and the Oyo State Government coming to cut it again.
“So, we need the drain and we need the road and it must come in a sequence. These are the challenges of construction that we face and, sometimes, just unforeseen challenges – costs just go up, supply chain is broken somewhere. But with the best of commitment, we intend to finish before the end of this term.”