Private and commercial motorist will have to endure an additional 12 months of traffic gridlock on the 35-kilometre Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonsoki-Ojota highway in Lagos for its reconstruction to be completed.
Nigeria Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who inspected work on the road in company with President of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, said on Sunday that the road would be delivered end of next year.
“We expect that by end of 2020, the entire road network will be finished; you will have a road that will last for 40 years,’’ he assured.
The ongoing reconstruction is the first since the road was completed in 1978. The first attempt to rehabilitate the ever-busy road at a cost of N15bn was in 2013. But, work stopped immediately after the general elections in 2015 until 2017 when Dangote Group came up with a proposal to repair the road.
The proposal was for the concreting of the expressway from Creek Road to Liverpool and through Marine Beach to Oshodi, Oworonsoki and toll gate on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
We gathered that Dangote got Federal Government’s nod to reconstruct the road in 2018 at N72.9 billion and to enjoy 10 years tax rebate.
Since work commenced in 2018, there has been traffic lockdown in the Iganmu area of Lagos and the Mile 2 –Oshodi –Oworonsoki axis of the road.
Efforts by the Lagos State Government and other agencies to tackle the problem have not yielded lasting solution.
During the inspection, Fashola said the Federal Government was committed to “speedy completion of the highway to provide a lasting solution to the problems of bad roads and gridlock ’’ faced by motorists, passengers, businesses and residents of the areas affected.
The News Agency of Nigeria also quoted him as saying that the reconstruction was creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs and at the same time, advancing commerce because of the local content going into the work.
The minister, who was Lagos State governor between 2007 to 2015, explained that the project was creating wealth with thousands of trucks conveying iron rods, cement and other locally-sourced raw materials to sites where some 650 people were directly employed on various projects.
He said: “Businesses have started coming back on Liverpool Road because the road closed earlier is now back. You will see more of that. All of the businesses that are shut on Creek Road will come back. We expect to see property redevelopment and property renewal once the road is completed.
“Once the economy of Apapa returns, all the clearing and forwarding, shipping, newspaper companies and all others doing business will resume fully and the economy will bounce back.’’
He lauded the private/public partnership scheme with Dangote and pointed out that section two of the project, which was not part of the original contract was already showing signs of failure, due to heavy traffic.
“We are at the Oshodi area now and one side has been concluded and opened to traffic and this is how we intend to continue to complete and open, until we finish the entire road,’’ he said.
Fashola , however, appealed for understanding of road users as the roads go through the “curing process”, saying that President Muhammadu Buhari’s mandate was to build long-lasting and enduring roads.
Dangote lamented that the congestion at the ports, caused by gridlock had resulted to his group losing about N25 billion in accruable revenue from 2017 to the 2019 financial year.
He praised the quality of work taking place on the road, saying that the development was reviving commerce in the Apapa area.
He said: “This road will actually open up the economy. It will bring a lot of jobs and a lot of factories that have moved out will be able to move back.
“What I can also assure you is that this road will be finished before the end of next year.’’
Dangote, the Africa’s richest man, commended the cooperation of Apapa residents, noting that the development was responsible for the progress of the reconstruction.