The busies Nigerian interstate road has been in a bad state.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday flagged off the reconstruction and expansion works on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway during a ceremony at the Sagamu Interchange where he gave the assurance that adequate funds have been provided for the project.
The N167 billion project was contracted to Julius Berger Nigeria Plc and Reynolds Construction Company Limited for repairs on Section 1 (Lagos-Sagamu Interchange) and section II (Sagamu Interchange-Ibadan) respectively. It is expected to be completed within 48 months.
Mr. Jonathan noted that the expressway was constructed about 35 years ago, admitted that the reconstruction is overdue, and pledged that the project would be completed within schedule.
“We have made adequate funds arrangement and we shall deliver our pledge on schedule. Comprehensive construction is overdue (which is) why we went into partnership with reputable companies,” he said.
He added that the road which is plied by over 250,000 vehicles daily is one of largest road networks in Africa with 60 per cent of the nation’s economy centered on it. He then appealed to motorists to bear the pains as work will commence in earnest.
“Today we are commencing the road and we shall deliver on time. We shall deliver dividends of democracy,” he said.
Earlier in his welcome speech, the Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, said the project is another major milestone as contained in the transformation agenda programme and priorities of the Federal Government.
He recalled that the Federal Government in 2009 had entered into a Public Private Partnership, PPP, arrangement with a construction company, Bi-Courtney, to develop the section between the old toll plazas at Ojota, Lagos State; and Ibadan, Oyo State- a distance of approximately 105km- for enhanced quality of service to all users of the highway in a manner that met international standard.
However, he said, four years later, no real progress was recorded while road users continued to be at risk of accidents on the road prompting government to terminate its agreement with Bi-Courtney. He noted that the frequent carnage on the road was detrimental to the economy and urgent action needed to be taken to remedy the situation. He, however, emphasised that the Federal Government is committed to the current project as it is not only important for the South-West Zone but for the country and sub-region at large.
The Lagos-Ibadan road is the first expressway to be constructed in the country and was commissioned in August 1978. It is part of Arterial Route A.1 linking Lagos, the commercial centre of Nigeria, through Ibadan to the northern part of the country.