By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
ABUJA — The Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, FERMA, yesterday absolved itself of blame over the collapse of the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Lagos, saying that it was not part of its mandate.
The agency was responding to criticisms over the neglect of one of the most economically critical roads in the country, since it provides access to the nation’s most important sea ports.
According to FERMA’s spokesperson, Mrs. Maryam Sanusi, the rehabilitation of the road in question was being handled by the Federal Ministry of Works, which has already awarded the contract to two construction companies, as the scope of work was beyond FERMA’s mandate.
Her words: “The fact is that the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Works has awarded two contracts for rehabilitating the expressway.
“These are Oshodi-Apapa Expressway Section I (CH 0+000 to CH 7+000) awarded to Messrs. Borini Prono Nigeria Limited, and Oshodi- Apapa Expressway Section II (CH 7+000 to CH 23+000) awarded to Messrs. Julius Berger Nigeria Plc.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the road under reference is under an existing contract and FERMA does not work on a road under construction or rehabilitation contract.
“Government’s decision to award the road for rehabilitation was borne out of a technical evaluation which indicated that only a complete rehabilitation of the route will ease the perennial problem of that section. This is considering the level of deterioration of the road.
“Construction and rehabilitation, the kind of remedy fit for Oshodi – Apapa Expressway, are major civil engineering works that are clearly outside FERMA mandate and the level of funding available to the Agency.
“FERMA’s intervention on Oshodi–Apapa Expressway over the years, as indeed on all other roads in the Federal network, has been to ensure that this very important arterial route conveying the bulk of goods to and from the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports remain motorable to ensure free flow of traffic.”
“The Agency believes that all critical issues needed to provide a lasting solution to the perennial traffic problem on the Oshodi – Apapa Expressway have been addressed in the current contracts.”
“Our assessment of the reason for the collapse of the road includes solid waste disposal by residents and businesses in adjoining built up areas. Many residents and businesses dump their refuse in the drains and water channels on the assumption that storm water would clear it.
This refuse end up blocking the drains and causing extensive flooding on the road, a situation that gets worse during the rainy season. This practice has been a major theme of public enlightenment campaign by FERMA”.
Mrs. Sanusi explained that the Agency was discharging its mandate of maintaining the over 34,000 Federal roads network, creditably well.
According to her, “FERMA’s mandate is essentially limited to general road maintenance and special repairs and pavement strengthening. The special Repairs and Pavement Strengthening is one area where our impact is being felt all over the country”.
The spokesperson, said it was unfair to judge the performance of FERMA on the condition of a single road out of more than 34,000 kilometres nationwide where its impact was being felt and accolades showering in on the Agency’s leadership.
“Even if FERMA were to be judged by its performance in Lagos State alone” , she said that the comment by its critics on the Oshodi_Apapa road was “disappointing as it chose to ignore the extensive maintenance works done on many Lagos township roads, including the complete turnaround of Ijora Causeway which until recently was a no_go area, Lagos – Badagry Expressway, Lagos Metropolis Roads, Old Abeokuta Road and the Third Mainland Bridge, including the installation and maintenance of streetlights”.