by Tosin Adesina
One major project that has gulped trillions of Naira without completion is the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, which is also the busiest expressway in West Africa. It is divided into two major sections: the Lagos-Sagamu section and the Sagamu to Ibadan section.
The Obasanjo government between 1999-2007 did little or nothing on the road until it was concessioned to Bi-Courtney Highway Services owned by renowned lawyer Wale Babalakin. While the concession lasted before it was revoked by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, the road was a litany of billboards erected by the company pleading on road users to be patient. These billboards which were followed up with other messages on the expressway did nothing to fix the road as Bi-Courtney was accused of using the road to borrow loans from commercial banks.
When the contract was revoked from Bi-Courtney there was no immediate action for construction until Jonathan commenced his failed 2015 re-election bid. The road was awarded to two construction firms – Julius Berger and Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) with a colourful flag off ceremony on the 5th of July 2013 with a promise of 24-month completion date. More than 24 months after, the road is in the eye of the storm as the contractors have moved out based on inadequate funding on the part of the Federal Government.
That the Lagos-Ibadan expressway is still under construction is a shame too big for a country like ours to handle. The road is the major channel for land import of products in Nigeria as those coming from the east to Lagos travel via the road. It’s a similar situation for those in the North who use the road to ferry in goods to and through Lagos into neighbouring countries.
The decision of the two major contractors handling the project to abandon the project is a clear indication of government’s low commitment to development in Nigeria. The APC-led federal government promised to reduce the infrastructural deficit in the country but its action towards projects that could bridge the deficit gap such as the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the Second Niger Bridge, among others shows the government may not just be ready.