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Business News of Friday, 13 January 2023


Fashola blames funding for Lagos-Ibadan road construction delay

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has said the main source of delay for the completion of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is funding.

Fashola told the media yesterday that the road could have been built and completed between 1999 and 2015 when funding was much cheaper.

He said since the current administration came on board, the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), which was a special investment income from the Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) and also funds recovered from outside Nigeria, had been instrumental to the completion of the project.

Fashola added that there are also barriers obstructing the speedy completion. “We are building through a major transport artery. Our last traffic count indicates that at least 40,000 vehicles use that road from the Lagos end to the Sagamu end. After Sagamu, the traffic drops to about 22,000-23,000 vehicles. That has to be managed to ensure the safety of the construction workers and that is why you have barriers and diversions.”

He explained that the Lagos end coming into Ojota is the most built-up part of the road; very densely populated residences, businesses, and factories have sprung up.

“So, we left that part for the last. Now, why did we close? Traditionally in December, people may not be aware, the construction industry shuts down by mid-December and resumes around the middle of January. Then, we thought of opening up the barriers.

“We are hoping to finish the project in the first quarter of this year. But trust me, perhaps we don’t pay attention to it, it is in those same gridlocks when people are either impatient sometimes when they drive against oncoming traffic, and 'disobey diversions and signs, that our construction materials move. Most of the construction materials we use come from Ogun State. So, when we lose a day, we try to recover it; when we lose a week, we try to recover it,” he said.

Speaking on the free flow of traffic, he said: “If you are driving from Sagamu towards Lagos and you are going at 100km/hr, you cannot expect that when you get to the construction zone, you will be driving at same speed. I think that is where we must do more advocacy.

“One of the things I have said publicly is the time has come to begin to enforce compliance with road safety laws, especially to ensure that only properly satisfied drivers are on the road. This will go in a matter of a few months.”

Speaking on why construction materials cannot be carried out at night, he said: “All of these had been done at some point or the other, but if you understand construction, there are certain things you can’t do at night at construction sites. We have tried all of these options; none of it is free of its challenges. We are doing the best in terms of circumstances.

“Also, you might not be aware that prices of construction materials have moved. Diesel, I think, used to be around N200 and it has moved up, and the contractor is saying we can’t continue in this manner. So, we have to start a process of revising the contract cost,” he said.