Despite concerns raised by motorists and other road users, the Federal Government has said there is no going back on the four-month planned partial closure of sections of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway for reconstruction.
The Federal Controller of Works in Lagos State, Mr Adedamola Kuti, said on Sunday the planned partial closure starting from August 3 would not be postponed even with the next month’s Sallah holiday trips and other religious activities that would increase traffic on the road.
According to him, the aim is to complete that portion of the road before Christmas when the traffic is expected to be heavier.
“What we are doing is to finish the project before Christmas when more people will be travelling. We are not closing the road totally; we are providing routes where people will follow and once everyone is patient, everything will go well,” he said.
The Federal Road Safety Corps had last week notified the public that Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, the construction company handling rehabilitation work on Section 1 of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, had given notification of its plan to commence intensive work on the Berger-Kara end of the road on August 3, and would close some sections for four months.
In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday, the Ogun Sector Commander of the FRSC, Mr Clement Oladele, said the partial closure of the 1.4 kilometres portion of the road had been postponed before and any further delay would affect its delivery date.
“The project is expected to be delivered by 2021 and any further postponement will affect the date,” he said.
He urged motorists to use alternative routes such as the Lagos-Ota-Itori-Abeokuta and Ikorodu-Sagamu roads during the period.
According to Oladele, palliative work is also ongoing under Ogun River Bridge at the popular Kara Cattle Market to help improve traffic flow.
He stated that the FRSC had made plans to deploy more personnel to the area for 24-hour patrol, while the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority and other security agencies would be available to help with traffic control.
“Our plan is to make sure we reduce the discomfort that motorists are expected to face. It is a huge challenge to them and to us as enforcement agents as well but we are setting up camp in the area. We are bringing in personnel from other parts of Ogun State and some from Lagos State to help with traffic control,” he said.
Oladele, however, stated that indiscipline might compound the challenges on the road and cautioned motorists to obey traffic rules by reducing their speed to 50 km/hour and avoid driving against traffic.
The General Manager of LASTMA, Mr Wale Musa, said officials of the agency would ensure effective traffic control as well as assist in the evacuation of faulty vehicles.
“Fifty per cent of vehicles that break down along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway are evacuated by our officials; so, traffic control won’t be a problem. Although a good portion of the road is in Ogun State and so by law, it is not under our jurisdiction; the part under Lagos will be handled effectively,” he added.
The President, Association of Maritime Truck Owners, Chief Remi Ogungbemi, said the closure would have adverse effects on commuters and cargoes coming in and out of Lagos, and advised that adequate plans for alternative roads should be made.
He said for ease of traffic, the Ikorodu-Sagamu road, a suggested alternative route, should be put in good condition and dedicated to heavy-duty trucks.
The Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Muda Yusuf, while welcoming the rehabilitation of the road, said the government needed to start thinking of constructing a new bypass because of the level of development going on around the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
He said, “All over the world, as cities grow, the road network is increased. The capacity of Nigerian roads has been overstretched and there is a need to increase the number of roads and build byways.
“Even if they complete the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, there will still be the need for a bypass because of the level of development along that axis. People waste a lot of time there as a result.”
A former Chairman, Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, Mr Bola Ogunyele, transport operators appreciated the efforts of the government to provide good road but decried “the avoidable inconveniences and anguish drivers, passengers and road users are subjected to during road repairs and reconstruction.”
He said using the alternative Ikorodu-Sagamu and Epe/Ajah-Ijebu-Ode roads would come with additional cost such as increase in the amount of fuel by vehicles and other operation costs as well as travel time.