Contrary to what some may want the public to believe, the Lagos – Shagamu Expressway project being handled by Julius Berger Nigeria PLC is going on according to planned schedule ahead of the projected completion date in July, 2022.
Recently, the Managing Director of the construction giant, Engr. Lars Richter had cause to assure Nigerians that the Lagos-Sagamu expressway project among other roads being constructed by the company would be completed as contracted to Julius Berger, adding that requisite human and technical resources, even new technologies, had been mobilised to complete the jobs as scheduled.
However, the foregoing assurances notwithstanding, some remain sceptical and oftentimes willfully resort to deliberate distortion of facts on ground to mislead the unsuspecting members of the public on the status of the projects.
A detailed tour of the entire length of the road construction site of the Lagos-Sagamu expressway Tuesday and Wednesday by Stockswatch team revealed that work was ongoing and steadily too. From Mowe to Ibafo, a lot of construction work was ongoing on the major highway even as many access roads constructed by Julius Berger were busy with huge vehicular traffic.
A walk through an access road through Mowe community inward Lagos indicated that the cycle of nature, that is, the coming of the rains, also have affected the holding strength of the access road earlier created by Julius Berger. To further worsen the situation, the frequent use of the access road by impatient and careless drivers of articulated vehicles and trucks at the slightest of traffic holdups have compounded the state of the access road. This slows down traffic movement and often leads to further congestion on the busy project site. Besides, it was observed that lay-bys constructed by the company to allow for parking spaces for commercial buses are readily abandoned by drivers who choose to pick and drop passengers on the major road, further compounding the gridlocks.
The same was observed at Asese, Buildwell-Magboro and Magboro. Access roads constructed by Julius Berger to ease gridlocks on the major highway under construction have been subjected to abuses by heavy-duty trucks. The situation on these access roads have also been further compounded by the heavy rains, too.
According to the Project Manager, Thomas Christl, “for anyone to say no one knows the date of completion of the project, it is falsehood. We are ahead of the planned and agreed timelines and the pace of work is fast and on schedule.” Christl said it is the company’s professional responsibility that staff at the site work 7am through 6pm daily and nothing less as some commentators want the public to believe. He added: “Julius Berger have the personnel and equipment necessary to do the job as defined by our schedule and efficiency requirements.
“On work site, they start work at 7am and close 6pm daily. Since COVID lockdown started being eased, there has not been any public holidays. So the company work according to schedule even at weekends and Christmas season.”
The project manager debunked allegations that Julius Berger never did any Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, ESIA to know the effect of the construction on the communities living along that area and how to mitigate it. The exercise is usually done ahead of the contract approval. In the case of the Lagos-Sagamu project, he said the Federal Ministry of Works does such things before a contract is perfected.
It is true that traffic gridlocks exist on sections of the Lagos – Shagamu road project site. It is however largely due to vehicular accidents and related breakdowns often occasioned by impatience and over-speeding by motorists. For instance, between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020, the Project Team’s Salvaged Vehicles Review reveal that while the number of vehicular accidents on the project site was 240 or 22% of salvaged vehicles within the period, the number of broken down vehicles was 871 or 78%. That is why Julius Berger deliberately create motorable access roads at areas we envisage such gridlocks they may affect vehicular movement and compound our work on the site. In order to further manage the development, a team of traffic management experts and relevant security personnel comprising, Federal Road Safety Corp, FRSC, TRACE, Police and military personnel have always been handy apart from regular grading of the access roads to ameliorate the situation for road users.
The road traffic coordinator for the project, Solace Orlu corroborated the foregoing. He said, “The heavy traffic gridlocks currently experienced on the Lagos Ibadan Expressway can also be partly attributed to the daily curfew as part of the implementation of COVID-19 protocol by the Federal Government that is enforced from 12 midnight to the 4am on daily basis. At this time, the expressway is shut down at Warewa inbound Lagos, leading to heavy traffic inward Lagos in the morning.”
He also added that multiple road blocks mounted by the Police at Magboro, Punch and Mowe and the Military road block at NASFAT, inward Ibadan, very bad state of articulated trucks leading to multiple vehicular breakdowns and road crashes due to over speeding on sections with wider and newly paved road surfaces result in avoidable traffic gridlocks on the road.
It was observed that as part of the project team’s routine traffic flow enhancement activities, palliative works are currently ongoing around the earth/alternative roads at Magboro.
Recently, to curb gridlock and wanton destruction of highway infrastructure by reckless motorists, it was reported that the Federal Government may soon commence strict enforcement of the Highway Act whereby defaulting and reckless motorists, who cause structural damage on highway infrastructure are to pay for the repairs or go to prison under the law.
The Federal Controller of Works in Lagos state, Mr. Kayode Popoola, said the law would be enforced to make defaulters pay for repairs of damaged road following series of destruction of sections of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway undergoing reconstruction by drivers of tankers and other articulated vehicles that fall on the road. Some of the fallen vehicles caught fire and destroyed bridges and asphalts on the road. It was learnt that Section 20 of the Highway Act compels motorists to pay for damages caused on the roads.
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