BY MONSURU OLOWOOPEJO
Residents of Ojo Local Government have expressed concern over the completion date for the ongoing construction of Ariyo (Mile 10)-Ira-Muwo Bridge, demanding the intervention of the State governor, Babatunde Fashola, to resolve the issues hampering the project.
This came six months after the state government re-awarded the project to Lopek Engineering and Construction Ltd at an estimated cost of N1.288, 000, 000.
The state government had revoked the contract for the construction of the Bridge due to the slow pace of work and inability of the contractor- Messrs Moreno Marinas Lagoon Plc, to meet its contractual obligation.
They argued that with the issue that has clouded the project, there isn’t any indication that the project would be delivered on by the contractor.
Residents of the mostly affected communities in Ira, Muwo, Tedi, Ariyo and Abule-Oshun, urged the government to look into the demands of the over 50 workers over their unpaid seven months arrears by the previous contractor handling the project.
When completed, the bridge will serve as an alternative route for motorists when the ongoing expansion works on the ever busy Lagos-Badagry express road reach Abule-Oshun axis.
Chairman of the Muwo Community Development Association, MCDA, Mr. Isiaka Mutairu said that a portion of the bridge that was shoddily done by the previous contractor was one of the issues yet to be resolved.
Mutairu explained; “After the state government re-awarded the contract to Lopek, the workers protested at the site, demanding that if their salaries were not paid, they would disallow the completion of the project.”
According to him; “The community intervened and we sent emissaries to Moreno, to explain the new development and seek their own side of the story. But we were amazed when they said that since the state government had revoked the contract, it isn’t their responsibility to pay the wages of the workers who were employed for the construction, rather the state government has to pay the salaries.”
Another resident of the Community, Prince Chukwu Jahmel lamented that the issue has shattered their hope of having another access road to the Lagos-Badagry expressway.
The acting Baale of Muwo Community, Chief Yekini Bakare, the closest community to a portion of the bridge, said “For over four years now, vehicle owners in the community have been unable to make use of the road (Ira) to link the Lagos-Badagry express way. Whenever its rains, the road becomes impassable.”
Responding to the issue of unpaid wages, Commissioner for Works and infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat said: “They have been advised to deal with their employer, Moreno and not disturb the new contractor.
“We have contacted Moreno to treat their workers issues. However, these workers will not be allowed to disturb the progress of work. We are talking to them to see this resolved.”
Explaining why the contract was revoked, the commissioner said “the state government discovered that Moreno failed to meet the contractual agreement. And the road project has now been re-awarded to another contractor (Lopek) after the state government got rid of Moreno Construction Company. So work has commenced technically on the road project again.”
Also on the complaint over the level of work, he said; “The residents don’t understand the scope of work on that project. It is logical to prevent demobilization before commencing phase 2 of the project. That is the correct approach to the project.”