Thursday, October 22, 2015


22nd October, 2015,

The Federal Government (FG) allegedly declared yesterday that work could not continue on Lagos-Ibadan expressway due to financial constraint.    

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) finds this statement alarming and disappointing. Is FG aware of the strategic importance of this road? This is the only road plied by millions of Nigerians going in and out of Lagos. As the commercial hub of the nation, any disconnect between Lagos and the rest of Nigeria tantamounts to economic strangulation of the whole country.

How do we transport goods to and fro Apapa Port if the only access road is rendered unmotorable? Trailers who ferry these goods rely solely on Lagos-Ibadan expressway. Unfortunately the road is in such a dilapidated state that even the trailers fall by the roadside on a daily basis. Yet there is no alternative since there is no reliable rail system yet.

The two companies (Julius Berger and the Chinese Construction Company) which started the work have done very well so far. All the parts of the road which they have refurbished are now very smooth and wide. But the areas yet to be covered are full of bumps and they are now getting worse by the day, particularly since the companies stopped working on them a few months ago.

The bumps are an eyesore and driving there is hazardous. Vehicles break down frequently on the rough surfaces while accidents are also common there as drivers either run into ditches or collide with those behind them as they attempt to avoid the bad portions of the road.

The bad spots have also been causing long vehicular queues thus turning a journey that should not last longer than one hour to one that lasts five or six hours. This is not good enough for our economy because Nigerians can do a lot for their country during those hours of waste and pain.

Worse still, Nigeria has lost so many of its crème de la crème to this road in the last seven years that only those who want to be counting dead bodies in their hundreds and on a daily basis will deprive Lagos-Ibadan expressway the necessary fund for refurbishing at this point in time. We cannot afford the retention of a culture of waste. Furthermore, almost all the spots where resurfacing was stopped by the two companies when the last regime refused to pay them now dangle the sword of Damocles over the heads of road users.

We are not oblivious of the fact that past regimes are to blame for the negligence. The immediate past regime of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan must have been responsible for the failure to pay the construction companies. But today the buck stops at President Muhammadu Buhari’s table. Government is a continuum. Buhari has inherited both the assets and the liabilities. Over to you, Mr. President. 

FG’s only excuse for suspending work on the road is shortage of funds. We can understand this particularly in these days of dwindling resources. But there must be a way out. FG can rearrange its priorities or enter into an agreement with local or foreign partners who have the required funds. The toll gates may come back as a way of recovering funds and paying back the partners. But work must resume on Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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