by Isi Esene
This is not cheering news for those planning to take their annual trip from Lagos to the eastern part of the country as reports indicate that the comprehensive reconstruction work planned to be undertaken on the ever busy Lagos-Ibadan expressway will not commence until next year.
Instead, Messrs Julius Berger Nigeria Plc and RCC Nigeria Limited, the new contractors, are expected to use the three weeks before Christmas to repair the worst portions of the road.
The Federal Government recently announced the cancellation of its agreement with the Bi-Courtney Consortium expressing doubt over the construction firm’s capability to raise funds in executing the project.
Under the agreement, the Bi-Courtney Consortium, led by businessman, Wale Babalakin, was expected to undertake the road reconstruction, management and establishment of a toll mechanism on the expressway to recoup its investments within a stipulated period of time.
Sources say, “The whole thing is still complex. Provision was not made for the road in the 2012 budget and many questions are being raised: When were the contractors pre-qualified? Has the contract gone through BPP? What is the contract sum?
“The contractors will need time to do their costing and mobilize to site. Usually, they buy new equipment for such kind of job, and this will take some time. The government and the contractors are talking about using standard rates, but the law does not provide for this.”
A source in the Federal Ministry of Works, who craved anonymity gave an indication that the contract given to the two construction firms might not be for the reconstruction of the road.
The source reportedly said, “Though the details are still sketchy, I think the contract is not for reconstruction of the road. Bi-Courtney was supposed to rehabilitate the road first due to its bad state before reconstructing it, as reconstruction will take some years, that was why it mobilized Borini Prono and CCC to site recently.
“If Julius Berger and RCC are to reconstruct, then the Federal Government will have to introduce tolls on the road, and I can confirm that that is not in consideration at the moment. So, I think the contract is just for rehabilitation of the road.”
While announcing the cancellation of the Bi-Courtney contract last Monday, the minister of works, Mike Onolememen, said, “Consequently, the Federal Ministry of Works has engaged the services of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc and RCC Nigeria Limited to commence work immediately on the reconstruction of the expressway.
While Julius Berger will handle Section 1 from Lagos to the Shagamu Interchange; RCC Nigeria Limited will be responsible for Section II from Shagamu to Ibadan.”