…Contract on road to be re-awarded soon — Lagos govt
By Ikenna Asomba
RESIDENTS of Kirikiri community in Oriade Local Council Development Area of Lagos State, have continued to groan as a result of the rapidly deteriorating condition of Dillion Street, one of the access roads in the community, which has become worse on account of the early rains.
Neglected by successive governments over the last 16 years, the road, according to residents, would have become completely impassable but for the palliative work carried out on it through communal efforts.
The community hosts the popular Kirikiri Maximum Prisons, over five tank farms, trailer dumps, St Joseph Catholic Church, St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Tincan Hospital, EcoBank, Sterling Bank, Macdons Fast Food, among other private and public establishments.
When Vanguard Metro, VM, visited the area recently, the road was heavily flooded, even as articulated vehicles and tankers which besiege the community meandered through the deep ditches dotting the road. Cars, tricycles and motorcycles were not spared as they were also hampered, while trying to pass through several failed sections of the road.
Speaking to VM, Arch-Deacon of Kirikiri Diocese and Vicar of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Kirikiri, Venerable Levi Opara, disclosed that his church has over the last two years been making frantic efforts to draw government’s attention to the road, stating that it has written severally to the Lagos State Ministry of Works, as well as the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, FERMA, but to no avail.
Venerable Opara, however, said residents, as well as members of the church were joyous when they read in the papers that the road was among the 114 new roads earmarked last year September to be constructed across the 57 local government areas, LGAs and local council development areas, LCDAs, by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, as part of his administration’s efforts to create access in rural communities of the state.
But he said their joy was short-lived. Unlike contractors for roads in other communities who had mobilized to site since February this year, the contractor that was supposed to handle Dillion Street was nowhere to be found.
Opara who spoke as he led members of his church to protest the state of the road said: “I have been here as the Minister-in-charge of the St. Paul’s Anglican Church for over 10 years, and this road has been unmotorable since then. I came to meet the road unmotorable like this.
“Again, the adjacent Okoduwa Street was also unmotorable. We cried for so many years until the immediate-past Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, came to our rescue and reconstructed it.
“Over the years, politicians who come here to campaign always promise to fix Dillion Street, but when they get elected, they renege. So, we were happy again when we learnt that Dillion Street was among the 114 roads that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had earmarked for reconstruction as part of his administration’s commitment to impact greatly on the rural communities. But, we are shocked that some months after contractors were mobilized in other communities, we have not seen any contractor here.
“The road would have been worse than this if not for our Church, St. Joseph Catholic Church and good-spirited neighbours around who helped to pour rubble on the road. On our part as a church, we have spent over N4 million in carrying out palliatives on the road. Even when we do this, the long articulated vehicles and tankers which ply this road because of the tank farms and trailer dumps within the Kirikiri community cause more damage to the road.
“This road poses a lot of challenges to members of my church. Most of them are discouraged to come to church services during the rainy season because they are usually splashed with mud on their way to church or end up falling into the numerous ditches on the road,” he lamented.
Also lamenting the state of the road, another resident, Chief Festus Okolie said: “The untold hardship the impassable state of this road poses to us is unimaginable. Car owners among us are forced to visit the mechanics to fix our cars almost on daily basis.”
On her part, Mrs. Ijeoma Christopher said: “We have been going through hell here on this road. Most times you want to go out for important meetings, you are stuck for several hours owing to the traffic gridlock caused by these articulated vehicles and tankers that come into the community. The road has caused us myriad of problems. We are pleading with the Lagos State Government to compel the contractor for the road reconstruction to come on site as we are groaning under pains here.”
Rejecting the contract
Meanwhile, when contacted, Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Communications and Communities, Kehinde Bamigbetan, disclosed that the state government was aware of the development, adding that the issue of the contractor rejecting the contract would be fixed in the coming weeks.
According to Bamigbetan: “About three contractors bidded for the Dillion Street (reconstruction), when the Lagos State Government called for bidding, but the Chinese construction firm, CCECC won the bid.
“Some few weeks after the contract was given to CCECC, the Oriade LCDA wrote the state government that the construction firm has rejected the contract, saying that the amount bidded was below what will be required in fixing the road.”
Bamigbetan, however, did not disclose the amount that the contract was awarded for.
“What the Lagos State Government has done was to set up a panel of external assessors to review the contract and get back to the state on how much it would cost to fix the road. I believe in a couple of weeks they should be through and submit their report to the state government for further action.
“Our appeal is for the residents and other road users of Dillion Street to be patient with the state government. The contract was not deserted or abandoned as speculated. This is just the truth of the matter,” explained the former Chairman of Ejigbo LCDA.