BY JUDE NJOKU & FAVOUR NNABUGWU
* As Bi-Courtney carpets govt for not doing enough 3 months after revocation of concession…
The Federal Government has again assured Nigerians that it is irrevocably committed to full reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Lagos- Ibadan Expressway.
The Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, an Architect, renewed the pledge at a press conference which centred on the emergency repair works and reconstruction of the Lagos – Ibadan dual carriageway road sections I and II; Lagos to Shagamu interchange and Shagamu to Ibadan (Ojoo).
The Minister disclosed that the contractors to the project, Messrs Julius Berger Plc and Raynold Construction Company Limited will ensure that all failed sections of the road are recovered and made motorable more before the yuletide season in line with the Federal Ministry of Work’s Operation Safe Passage on Nigerian Roads.
Onolememen who expressed his satisfaction with the work so far done within one week of the contractors’ mobilisation, stated that in the next three weeks, the suffering of commuters on the road would be drastically reduced.
The Minister also assured Nigerians that the Federal Government is committed to the reconstruction of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, Tegina – Kaduna road and 9th Mile to Makurdi- Lafia to Abuja.
The Minister’s assurance came amidst criticisms from the former concessionaire, Messrs Bi-Courtney Limited, BCL. The company regretted that three months after the revocation of its concession to reconstruct the road, no appreciable work has been done on the expressway as promised by the Federal Government which stated that the new contractors would fix the road before December last year.
Bi-Courtney’s spokesman, Mr. Dipo Kehinde argued that his company deserves praises for saving the highway from total collapse while various interest groups were working against the success of the project.
Reacting to insinuations that the firm failed on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway project, Kehinde, said BCL left the road in a much better condition than it was in 2009, when it won the concession for its reconstruction under a Design, Build, Operate and Transfer, DBOT, agreement with the Federal Government.
While announcing the termination of the concession agreement on November 19, 2012, at an emergency press conference addressed by the Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, the FG stated that two construction firms would fix the road before Christmas but not much has been done. The situation must be reassessed because the problem was in the system not the concessionaire. At some points, our efforts were commended by road users, the Minister of Works and top officials of the Ministry who were supervising the project,” the Bi-Courtney spokesman said.
“The expressway would have become totally impassable if, indeed, we have failed to maintain it since 2009. It was for this purpose that we procured a $6.5 million asphalt plant, which was confiscated by the Ogun State government and had not been released till date.
After the visitation of the Minister to the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway on July 23, 2011, fresh palliative works were done.
It was the fourth time such extensive work was done by BCL on the road, since the concession was granted in 2009,” Mr. Kehinde said.