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No immediate plan to restore lasting sanity to Oshodi/Apapa expressway — INVESTIGATION

LAGOS—IT was confirmed last night that the Federal Government has no immediate plan to restore lasting sanity to the Oshodi/Apapa expressway, despite the effort of the much-touted Presidential Task Force whose objective is to make the road motorable in the short term

Vanguard  gathered that almost all the ministries and agencies tasked with the responsibility of hammering out a permanent solution to the collapsed road that leads to the second largest revenue earner in the country have been singing discordant tunes.

Mile 2
File: Gridlock as tankers shut down Apapa road.

None of them has come up with a lasting solution to the mayhem on the road to the dismay of the President.

Besides, the so-called contract allegedly signed with billionaire businessman, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, to re-construct the 74-km expressway, does not exist.

It was gathered that what was done on November 17, 2018 was a flag-off of the N73 billion road contract without legal backing.

A source told Vanguard that “what we did was a show, no contract was signed. We only signed an MOU.”

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It was learned that Dangote is already fretting; following exposure of his business to the tune of N8billion he used to re-construct a part of Wharf Road, Apapa, which may not be refunded to him.

The two ministries with the responsibility of providing cash for the project, Finance and Works, have not been forthcoming, leaving the contract unsigned.

Consequently, the billionaire has withdrawn his workers from the road.

Another cog hampering sanity on the road is the issue of parking bays for trucks, according to Vanguard’s investigation.

It was learned that both Lagos State and the Federal Governments have been unable to construct parking bays for trucks and tankers and that the Ministry of Works has been constructing a parking bay for the past 10 years without completing it.

A source told Vanguard that the Presidential Task Force has become a problem financially for Lagos State government, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and the Shippers Council.

According to the source, apart from the bill the trio has to pick up for the task team, they have questioned the lasting impact of the task team.

Vanguard learned, for instance, within the first two weeks of its presence in Apapa, the team slapped the trio with a bill of N115 million, being cost of accommodation and other incidentals.

It was also gathered that with the extension of task team’s assignment by two weeks by the vice president, it presented a revised bill of N240 million.

At press time last night, it was learned that the three agencies of government insisted that the money was not a guarantee that a permanent solution would be found to the problem.

One of the agencies argued that the police component of the task team should come to Lagos permanently, instead of just working for two weeks and leaving.

Another source said last night that they are expecting 300 policemen from Abuja to maintain traffic which another source argued was a waste of resources.

Leader of the police component of the task team, Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, was not forthcoming last night when Vanguard contacted him, but multiple sources said they would have preferred him to stay permanently to deal with the indiscipline and corruption being perpetrated by policemen aggravating the traffic situation.

A source told Vanguard that there was discipline when the soldiers were there but noted that their exit has worsened the situation.

N73bn road deal

The Federal Government had, in its efforts to find a permanent solution to Apapa gridlock, flagged off reconstruction of Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota expressway.

The road was to be constructed by AG Dangote Construction Limited at the cost of N73 billion and was to be delivered in two years.

Flagging off the reconstruction in Lagos, President Muhammadu Buhari had said the reconstruction would ease business at the ports and ameliorate motorists and residents’ suffering as well as boost revenue generation in the axis.

The President, who was represented by then Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said the reconstruction would be done in concrete for longer life span under Private Public Partnership, PPP.

He explained that the road, built between 1975 and 1978 as a major route to Tincan and Apapa ports, as well as Murtala Mohammed International Airport has been in deplorable state due to years of neglect, resulting in loss of billions of naira in revenue.

Fashola, who earlier toured Apapa Wharf Road, said the contractor is funding the project in the form of advanced tax because of the impact on his business.

He appealed to stakeholders to co-operate with the contractor to ensure early completion.

Immediate past Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, said the concrete template being introduced by the Dangote Group is a better option because of the topography of Lagos.

He said the lasting solution to Apapa gridlock lies in the combination of road, rail and water transportations.

The governor also appealed to the Federal Government for refunds of projects executed by the state to allow it tackle works in other areas.

President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote said over 60 per cent of revenue has been lost by businesses because of the deplorable state of the road.

 

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