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Opinions of Thursday, 15 July 2021

Columnist: Yinka Johnson

Lagos and road construction management

File photo to illustrate the story File photo to illustrate the story

I want to start this open letter to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State by thanking him for numerous road work being done in the state especially in mostly neglected areas before now.

As much as the intention of the governor is meant to bring relief to commuters and Lagosians, the manner in which this administration has gone about it has done otherwise.

First, working simultaneously on adjacent roads is one factor that has created more sorrow for commuters. For example, the end of Odo Iya-Alaro bridge of Maryland is under repair, a detour road of Gbagada/Anthony that could have been an alternative route is also being repaired at the same time. Excuse may be given that it is the Federal Government that is undertaking this particular repair but then if communication and proper synergy between the national and sub-national government had been put in place one of these two repairs could have been completed before the other is embarked upon.

Second, there is little or no proper oversight supervision by the works ministry of the state government. The resultant effect is that the contractors handling these repairs take forever to complete the roads leading to unnecessary lengthened suffering by commuters.

As much we are not privy to terms of engagement between the works ministry and the contractors, one would have thought that a contract for a major road like Ikorodu (arguably the busiest highway in the state) will have included in it overnight working. There will be less distractions for the workmen and the pace of work will be faster reducing the time allocated for repairs.

The argument against this point will be that the contractual cost will go up. But then, has this cost been checked against the economic cost of lost time by commuters locked down in traffic for hours daily over several weeks if not months. Time they say is money. We should not forget the damage on the health of commuters.

One other thing that comes to the fore is that sometimes, contractors leave the road unattended for days or weeks. In the first instance, the road will be blocked/diverted and work won’t commence until maybe a week or two after closure. Why close the road when work is not commencing immediately after closure/diversion.

Second, whilst work is ongoing, you will just notice that the construction seems abandoned because you can’t see any workmen on site or any work being done.

For close to two weeks, the sand stone and asphalt poured on the stretch after Odo Iya-Alaro bridge of Maryland have been left unattended whilst commuters continue to experience serious suffering.

Proper and adequate traffic management by LASTMA and other issues that need not mentioned will also come into this space. Truth be told, LASTMA has made a lot of difference in the state’s traffic management but a lot more need to be done in this particular area of their duty.

Officers thrown to manage traffic in construction locations get overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the resultant challenges created by the contractor and sometimes disappear from the scene before they slump on the road.

I will therefore want to plead with the state government that a more pliable clause with human face is factored into road repair contracts henceforth.

One more time, thank you Mr Governor for the good work you are doing but you would not want the IGR of the state to be affected negatively because of road construction and its implication on the commuters’ economy and Lagosians do not want to start addressing health challenges when the roads are completed.

Thanks and God bless you immensely sir for considering these issues.