It came as cheering news that the two contractors engaged by the federal government to reconstruct the 167-kilometre Lagos/Ibadan Expressway have moved their equipment back to site to resume work.
The Federal Government under former President Goodluck Jonathan had hired Julius Berger PLC to reconstruct and widen the portion from the Shagamu Exchange in Ogun State to the Lagos metropolis. RCC was awarded the Shagamu to Ibadan section. A lot of progress was made, and hopes were high among the road users that the traffic nightmares and frequent accidents experienced on the nation’s busiest highway would soon be a thing of the past.
Work, however, came to a screeching halt after the change of government in May this year, fuelling fears of another abandonment of work such as was experienced when the federal government handed the road over to a local private concessionaire, Bi-Courtney.
We are hoping that work on this road and others nationwide can now proceed without any further break. The completion of the Lagos – Ibadan Express must be seen as a national priority and pursued with single-minded commitment until it is completed on its due date, March 2017.
The reason for this is obvious. Lagos is the economic melting pot of the nation. It houses the country’s largest airport and busiest seaports. It is the primary port of entry for all manner of imported goods, particularly petroleum products. That is why the expressway is overcrowded with trucks, trailers, tankers, lorries and other vehicles of all shapes and sizes from all over the country, all heading for Lagos to lift goods and human cargoes.
It is, therefore, imperative that this road and others like it around the country (such as the Shagamu-Benin-Onitsha, Benin-Warri, East-West Road, Enugu- Port Harcourt Express, Onitsha- Enugu –Abakaliki Express, Abuja-Okene Express, Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Express, Ibadan-Jebba-Mokwa Express and others) must be kept well maintained to move the commercial life of the nation forward. Good maintenance of our national highways is one of those avenues through which the federal government touches the lives of ordinary Nigerians and promotes their economic wellbeing, and therefore must no longer be toyed with.
We call on the federal government to focus a critical portion of the proposed $25 billion infrastructure fund in the total upgrading of our national highways to modern day standards, ensuring that they are well lit and provided with facilities to cater for accident victims and the overall comfort of travellers. These make travelling by road safer and more comfortable.
We commend the Buhari regime for nudging the contractors back to site on the Lagos-Ibadan Express way and hope that work will resume on all other temporarily abandoned federal highways as soon as possible.