By Sola Fanawopo
I have no doubt that President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration will deliver the reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway during his final term. Though I don’t know the time because the section yet to be reconstructed is still plenty.
For example, the section between Ibadan toll gate and Rojo hasn’t been touched at all. The completion of this particular section is dependent on the appropriated funds for the project by the National Assembly.
The pathetic narratives, plots and sub-plots of the Lagos-Ibadan express road speak much about what we are as a people. It makes me remember what Sir Lord Lugard said about Nigerians.
How did what Sir Lord Lugard say about us and God relate to this road? “In character and temperament, ” wrote Sir Lugard, “the typical Nigerians of this race-type is a happy, thriftless, excitable person. Lacking in self-control, discipline, and foresight. Naturally courageous, and naturally courteous and polite, full of personal vanity, with little sense of veracity, fond of music and loving weapons as an oriental loves jewellery. His thoughts are concentrated on the events and feelings of the moment, and he suffers little from the apprehension for the future, or grief for the past. His mind is far nearer to the animal kingdom than that of the European or Asiatic and exhibits something of the animal’s placidity and want of desire to rise beyond the state he has reached.
“Through the ages, the African appears to have evolved no organized religious creed, and though some tribes appear to believe in a deity, the religious sense seldom rises above pantheistic animalism and seems more often to take the form of a vague dread of the supernatural.
“He lacks the power of organization and is conspicuously deficient in the management and control alike of men or business. He loves the display of power, but fails to realize its responsibility ….he will work hard with less incentive than most races. He has the courage of the fighting animal -an instinct rather than a moral virtue……In brief, the virtues and defects of this race-type are those of attractive children, whose confidence when it is won is given ungrudgingly as to an older and wiser superior and without envy…….Perhaps the two traits which have impressed me as those most characteristic of the African native are his lack of apprehension and his ability to visualize the future.”
I will leave you to do the analogy and draw practical lessons from what Sir Lugard said and what has happened on this road in the last 20 years.
The focus of this piece is the inadequate design of the portion A of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. This section being handled by Julius Berger starts from Lagos and terminates at Shagamu. This section is arguably the fastest growing corridor in Nigeria today.
The mushrooming of church and Islamic camps, universities, industrial complexes, farm settlements and housing estates have turned the corridor into a beehive of human and vehicular bedlam most of the time. I dare say over 90 per cent of wahala recorded daily on this expressway happen in this section.
But unfortunately, the ongoing construction cannot even address the current challenges in this section not to talk about taken care of future growth and development.
I was surprised that Mr Babatunde Fashola, former Minister for Minister of Power, Works and Housing didn’t consider the alteration of the design when he sought for the approval for the variation of the contract for this section in 2018.
The former minister got the approval of additional N64.1 billion by the Federal Executive Council (FEC). The section was initially awarded to Julius Berger for 70 billion.
Fashola explained that the fresh funds would address the changing nature of the road. According to him, the increased human activity on the corridor informed the need to change the inherited design. He said the inherited design has become obsolete.
The new approval, Fashola explained, is designed to modify the bitumen for the road in order to withstand pressure from heavy-duty vehicles plying the road and cover the construction of pedestrian bridges and toll plazas.
He said: “The inherited design didn’t provide for all these at all.
The second section, the 80-kilometre Shagamu-Ibadan segment which is under Reynold Construction Company (RCC) is not captured in the variation.
My expectations were that the service lanes would be added to both sides of the roads from Lagos to Shagamu.
Just like how Oshodi-Mile 2 was designed, those who dwell on each side of the expressway would have no business driving on the main artery. All vehicular activities during the religious event would be in the service lanes, thereby freeing long-distance travellers from the trauma of the traffic problems.
I expect the new minister of works to take this as a priority as soon as portfolios are allocated and the ministers are sworn in by the President. May the good Lord guide our president right. Amen.