The Morgue called Lagos/Ibadan Expressway

Nwachukwu Egbunike

When in heaven’s name will the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway be fixed? This is a rather sad question, for the mere fact that one needs not remind government of her responsibilities. But in our clime it one has no option but to speak out or suffer the tragedy of disgust.

Late last year, in November, a friend was strangled by the noose called Lagos/Ibadan Expressway. Last month I skipped a premature embrace with my ancestors. With the trailer gone amok, I would have ended up under it’s belly. The month before I jumped harm on that open morgue; there was a great fire in front of Mountain of Fire. This was not from on high, rather it sprouted out from a violent kiss from two petrol tankers. Guess what, the inferno was intense – I wonder how hell’s would be? Lives were lost and cars were burnt. I was lucky that I only spent three hours before entering Lagos. I cannot count how many accidents I have witnessed. Other people who have the sad fortune of transversing that road in search of their daily garri, I bet, have worse tales.

But what do we get: is a curious billboard asking motorist to be patient. Blah, blah, blah! Another picture of the president adorns that pit, smiling and waving. Talk unending about concessioning:

The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday awarded Messrs Bi-Courtney Consortium the right to manage the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway under a 25-year concessioning arrangement valued at N89.5bn.  Bi-Courtney, which is chaired by the Presidential Adviser on Legal Matters, Dr. Wale Babalakin, is also handling the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos Terminal 1 project under a Build, Operate and Transfer arrangement.  The consortium is expected to upgrade the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to international standard with full control of access.

This was in 2009 and up till now, nothing has been done. Bi-Courtney in the typical Pilate manner has absolved itself of any blame. It matters nothing if it took them three years to do so:

WORK on the complete reconstruction and modernisation of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is set to begin, the concessionaire, Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited, has said.

While speaking with the reporters, Bi-Courtney’s Head of Communications and Media Relations, Mr. Dipo Kehinde, explained that the delay could in no way be blamed on the company, and was due largely to the bureaucracy of having its design approved as required by the terms of the concession.

He said  the concession is on Design-Build-Operate-Transfer (DBOT) basis, adding that the company needed to get its design approved by the Federal Ministry of Works before work could begin, and the approval was only given on May 10 because of frequent changes of Ministers.

Really? Why then did it take them so long to say so? Why continue in a deception while people die? It’s very easy to get depressed in this country. How can a firm take responsibility of a project and then push the burden else where?

If it’s not their fault, then all rests on the federal government. President Goodluck Jonathan should please do something. Things cannot just continue this way. In point 20 of your inaugural address you promised Nigerians happiness:

We must grow the economy, create jobs, and generate enduring happiness for our people.

Sir, we are not happy. You can change this gall and pavement of death into a road of transformation. Whatever the case, please do it fast, our patience is running out!

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