Nov. 13 (PREMIUM TIMES) — The Federal Government on Monday ordered Bi-Courtney Highway Services Ltd., the concessionaire handling the rehabilitation of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, to complete the ongoing reconstruction work on the highway before Christmas.
Tunde Ekunsunmi, Director, Public-Private Partnership (PPP), Federal Ministry of Works, gave the order while fielding questions from journalists at the end of an inspection tour of the reconstruction.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the company was to carry out the reconstruction work from Kilometre 32 to 45 (around Redeemed camp to Shagamu interchange),
Mr. Ekunsunmi said the company was expected to lay asphalt on the stone base two weeks before Christmas, to ensure less congestion when people travel for the Yuletide.
“This is the time to ensure this road is put in the right shape because of people travelling in the next few weeks for Christmas,” he said. “That is why we have come to alert them to work day and night to ensure that the road is good enough for the Christmas.”
He added that the ministry was satisfied with the progress of work done by the contractors, Messrs Borini Prono.
Mr. Ekunsunmi said the contractor was working in line with general certification of both the ministry and international standard.
“I think they have done very good, bearing in mind the intervention of weather,” he said.
Wale Babalakin, Chairman, Bi-Courtney, said the company would complete the reconstruction of the road without much stress to users.
Mr. Babalakin said, “Our purpose is that we have made a covenant with Nigerians to deliver this road on time and we are determined that this covenant, we would live up to it.
“Nigerians should expect that this road would be completed on schedule and they would have a smooth road to travel on for Christmas.”
The 105-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan road was conceded to Bi-Courtney in a public private partnership policy of late President Umaru Musau Yar’Adua, in May 2009.
The highway, stretching from Lagos to Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, through Ogun state, is a nightmare for its users. Frequently, petrol-laden tankers trip on the road causing huge carnage. Accidents and robberies are also common on the road.
The worst traffic drawback on the highway is the routine snag caused by the activities of religious organisations flanking both sides of the road.
Funding the road
The cost of constructing the highway is estimated at about N120 billion. Bi-Courtney’s major obstacle in delivering on the project since 2009 is lack of funds, South-west governors recently told President Goodluck Jonathan
The company’s spokesman, Dipo Kehinde, however told PREMIUM TIMES Bi-Courtney was buoyant enough to execute the highway construction but has been held back by the federal government’s inability to clear structures on the highway’s right of way.
“The problem is never funding,” Mr Kehinde said.
He said Bi-Courtney recently entered into partnership with some South African companies to help fund and execute the project.
He said Group Five would be the construction firm, while Rand Merchant Bank is the financier.
Vela VKE, he said, will be the Project Management company, and Aurecon would provide independent traffic and technical advisory services.
But Rand Merchant Bank recently wrote the International Center for Investigative Reporting, Abuja, saying rather than being a financier, it was appointed a financial advisor to the project as part of a wider team.
Since signing the agreement in 2009, Bi-Courtney has failed to construct the road, leading to increased carnage and regular obstruction of traffic on the highway.