By Monsuru Olowoopejo
LAGOS—RESIDENTS and commuters in Lagos State have accused the state government of abandoning the Ariyo (Mile 10)-Ira-Muwo road project in Ojo Local Government Area, an alternative route to Lagos-Badagry Expressway, conceived six years ago.
They lamented that the project, which would have reduced travel time on the ever busy road, has been left undone; leaving both residents and commuters to groan in traffic on Lagos-Badagry Expressway daily.
If the road had been completed, the residents argued, it would have served as a by-pass for motorists when the ongoing expansion works on the ever busy Lagos-Badagry Expressway reached Abule-Oshun axis of the road.
The project, which includes bridges, was at inception divided into phases to hasten completion work. The first phase was expected to be completed on 02/03/2013. But five years after, the residents complained that the government hasn’t fulfilled the promises made during inception.
At inception of the project, South-West Voice, SWV gathered that the Babatunde Fashola-led administration assured residents of prompt completion, resulting in residents’ approval for removal of structures that could impede its completion.
To ensure durability of the project, the project was awarded to Messrs Moreno Marinas Lagoon Plc.
But few months after, it suffered financial crisis and couldn’t pay workers’ seven months salaries.
Worried by the crisis rocking the firm and its inability to complete the first phase of the project, the former Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, told SWV that the workers “have been advised to deal with their employer, Moreno and not disturb activities at the site, though we are talking to both parties to see this resolved.”
After efforts to get the contractor complete the project as stipulated in the signed agreement proved abortive, Hamzat told our correspondent that “the state government realised that Moreno failed to meet the contractual agreement.”
Due to this, the Fashola administration re-awarded the project to another contractor, Lopek Engineering and Construction Limited, to fast-track its completion.
Few months after, the State Tender’s Board, STB, in 2012, led by its Chairman, Mrs. Florence Oguntuase, who also doubles as Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pension, listed the completion of the project among the prioritised 156 projects at an estimated cost of N58.7 billion.
A breakdown of the project, as published by the state government in its Procurement Journal of July 2013, disclosed that N1.288 billion was approved to Lopek for the completion.
Five years after re-awarding the project, it was gathered that the first phase of the project was yet to be completed.
It was gathered that the contractor, Lopek, was last sighted working on the project over one year ago.
The residents hinted that Lopek did not return to site even after Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, at the 2nd Quarter Y2017 Town hall meeting held in Oto-Awori Local Council Development Area, ordered contractors handling any state projects to return to site within seven days or risk contract termination.
It would be recalled that Ambode, at the event, stressed that if they could complete a link bridge in 11 months, Ajah flyover in 13 months and Abule-Egba flyover in 13 months, he wondered why these roads are uncompleted? So, the Ministry of Works must go back to these sites – Goriola Oseni, Mosafejo Ilufe road and Muwo-Tedi road.
Ambode said: “I must know what is going on within the next few days. The contractor must go back to site or else, I will terminate the contract. These are contracts already awarded. It is not that they are begging for the job. It is for them to finish the job.”
But over one year after the governor’s threat, the project is yet to be completed and portions already constructed have started deteriorating, forcing residents to raise concerns over the project’s durability.
While lamenting the effect the abandoned project has had on the community, the residents decried the bad state of roads in the area, saying, it has led to loss of financial resources to residents, especially vehicle owners who find it hard to navigate the roads due to persistent rainfall.
A commercial motorcycle operator, popularly called okada, Iliyasu Muhammed, disclosed to SWV that the Tedi-Muwo-Abule-Osun road linking through Ira-Ariyo area was designed to include a bridge now called the Egyptian Bridge, but has been abandoned by the state government.
Another resident, Ms. Shukurah Olaniyi lamented that the project was awarded the same year Cele-Oshodi Expressway was awarded.
“While we are still waiting for government to instruct the contractor to return to site, Cele-Oshodi project has been completed and already in use,” she said.
For Mr. Linus Oke, a resident of the community, he argued that the State Government should seek the service of another construction company to carry out complete check on the entire work done by the previous contractor.
Govt. keeps mum
Efforts to get the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Ade Akinsanya’s reaction proved abortive as calls and text sent to him were not returned.