There are no plans to concession the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the Federal Government has said even as it reiterated its commitment to completing the project in record time at the cost of N167 billion.
Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, who was speaking in Shagamu, Ogun State, during a joint inspection of the reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway by the Ministry of Works and the apex Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, insisted that “there has not been any revision on the project”.
He expressed satisfaction on the progress made so far by the contractors saying “the Federal Ministry of Works is on a working visit to the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. We have seen what the contractors have done and the ministry is impressed with the level of work done. It has also been alleged that the federal government is considering a new concession, but the federal government has taken a decision that the road will not be concessioned because we took it away from a failed concession.
“The federal government, in demonstration of good faith is putting out N50 billion for the project-N25 billion this year and N25 billion in 2015. If you look at the main budget and the SURE-P budget, the N25 billion is secured. Already, the federal government has secured a Private Finance Initiative, PFI, for the funding of the road project and this road will be the first road that will benefit from the PFI.
“This road will be completed within four years without any delay. The government of President Goodluck Jonathan is fully committed to the reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. I repeat, this road will never be concessioned, it will never be concessioned to anybody”.
On the quality of the road, the minister explained that the asphalt used in its construction was an improved material, which would give the road a 50-year lifespan despite the heavy traffic load.
He added: “We have found out that the bitumen we used on this road before was not good enough to withstand the heavy traffic. We have designed an operation and maintenance strategy, which will take off immediately after the construction of the road. It will run for 25 years.
“The usage of the asphalt will end the damage done by heavy trucks and we will not witness the destruction done by heavy trucks on the road again, because they are not using bitumen for the rehabilitation.
National publicity secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, who spoke on behalf of the group, commended the federal government for the progress made on the road, saying “having gone round and seen the level of work done on the road, we, in Afenifere, say we are satisfied. We are also using this opportunity to commend the federal government and the contractors handling the road project. We read in the newspapers all sorts of article written about the road but we have seen what is on ground.
“We have seen the model of other roads, at the end, most of them do not last long but having seen this model, we know this road will be a model to other roads in the country because it will last long. That is why we are using this opportunity to commend the federal government for the ongoing construction”.