By Ikenna Asomba
WITH less than one-week to the April 11 Governorship Election, the Lagos State Government, last weekend resumed palliative work on the seven-kilometre Ayobo-Ipaja road, in Alimosho Local Government Area of the state, which has been undergoing construction for over four years. The administration of Governor Babatunde Fashola, awarded the reconstruction of the dual-carriage road to an indigenous construction firm, Plycon Construction Company, in May 2011, and the project was initially billed to last for 18 months, thus to be completed in November 2012.
The only access road into Ayobo-Ipaja, which links 10 communities in the area, also links Ogun State, through the Idiroko out-skirt, as well as Cotonou, the largest city and economic centre of Benin Republic, through Aiyetoro Itele. This road is also the fastest link to Ikotun-Igando community, but owing to lack of motorable concrete bridge across the canal, residents make use of a wooden bridge made by them to have easy passage. While pedestrians are said to pay N30 to access this wooden bridge, motorists pay between N200 and N300.
Four years down the line, with this project yet to be completed, it has become a source of worry to motorists and other road users, as countless re-assurances by the state government that the project will be completed soonest has met brick-wall. When Vanguard visited the area, on Sunday, some workers were seen laying large stones and rubbles on the road, as a palliative measure .
Some of the residents who spoke to Vanguard, apparently described the state government’s action as coming too late, adding that it is a fire-brigade approach made in order to capture the area’s votes. At least two million residents, the highest number of electorate in the state use the road.
Failed promises: In what has been described as failed promises, sometime in June 2013, two years after the commencement of the project, residents of the community thought respite had come their way, when the current Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, gave government’s commitment to deliver the project in November 2013. According to Hamzat, the government was committed to delivering a standard road at the end of the day, saying “the situation has attracted the attention of Governor Babatunde Fashola who is interested in early completion of the project”.
At that time, Fashola, paid an unscheduled inspection visit to the project site, giving an ultimatum to the contractor to deliver. This saw the contractor mobilised more personnel and equipment to the site in apparent response to the executive order even amid the rains.
On his part, the Project Manager, Mr. Leke Adeniji, who assured that the project would be completed by the new November 2013 deadline, said: “This month represents the 18 months of construction of the road project. We have completed 60 percent of the median, 90 percent of the drains and 65 percent of the walkways. From this section of the road, Ipaja Road, what we will be doing next is the paving work.”
“Most incredibly is the amount of rainfall experienced yearly in the community. The rain posed a serious challenge for road construction.. From Baruwa to Megida Bus stop, we have completed 90 percent of the drains which represent the most challenging aspect of the project.
“What we are doing now is to raise the carriage way up to the required level before we commence the grading of the surface. We have been able to more or less complete that. And we have opened the section of the road, from Ayobo to Megida Bus stop. However, from this section of the road-Oluwaga, to Megida Bus stop, this is where we have a Herculean task. It required utmost concentration,” he disclosed.
Blame-game: Apparently worried by the barrage of criticisms poured against the State government for failure to complete the project three years after, a lawmaker representing Alimosho 1 constituency at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Bisi Yusuf, in July 2014, accused the federal government for the delay in the completion of the project.
According to Yusuf, the construction of the road, has been stalled from the Abesan Gate point to the entrance into Gowon Estate allegedly because of a demand by the federal government that the contractor working on the road should pay the sum of N290 million to protect the pipeline in the area.
Yusuf said, “The situation on that road is really bad; some people might not know the politics that is involved. The federal government is using the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to stall work on the road; they are saying that the contractor should pay N290 million for that very small portion of the road to protect the pipeline there and that is why today, only that portion of the road is left, while all other parts have been completed.”
Persistent traffic gridlock
Lamenting the situation, a resident, Olujimi Ojo said: “The government has really tried and the road is improving but I don t know why it’s taking so long to complete the road, especially the Abesan estate gate which is the major route for anybody going in and out of Ayobo- Ipaja. “The estate gate road has become so bad that vehicles going in and out of Ayobo to Iyana-Ipaja divert before getting to gate and either go through the estate or command road just to avoid it.
Motorists, not minding the stress, prefer to merry-go-round through Command axis and coming out at Abule Egba. The worst part is that there is always a chaotic traffic gridlock on this same road. You can be there for hours, because of potholes which motorists find difficult to manoeuvre.
This chaotic gridlock causes confusion along the road, so I am pleading on behalf of Ayobo residents that the state government should change our status and quickly complete this project.” Meanwhile, efforts to get the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Obafemi Hamzat to react to the issue proved futile, as several calls put across to his phone rang without him picking up.