- Says government was mindful of the heavy traffic that would be faced this year on the road
- Appeals to Commuters, Road Transport workers, Road Transport Employers to bear with FG as it tries to make the road better
- Also warns transport operators to desist from parking on the highways as government is developing strategies for repossessing the right of ways which is 45 meters from the central line
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, at the weekend undertook an inspection tour of the ongoing dualization of the Oyo-Ogbomosho road and the reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway urging contractors on the latter to speed up work in order to guarantee smooth journey experience for travellers across the country during the coming festivities.
Fashola, who undertook the inspection tour on the roads while returning from Ilorin where he attended the 5th National Council on Land, Housing and Urban Development, said although the contractors were faced with some constraints such as unpredictable weather and the fact that they have to work while also managing traffic, they must plan their work in such a way that would ensure a more tolerable driving experience during the festivities and general safety on the roads.
“You must plan your work in such a way that you’re able to accommodate that traffic and also help to make the journey time of commuters better during that period. They will be travelling home and coming back, and I also will like you to improve the safety signs on this highway,” Fashola told the contractors.
Noting that the moslem festival, Eid-el-Kabir was around the corner and that the end of the year festivities like Christmas and the New Year were fast approaching, the Minister urged the contractors handling the reconstruction ,rehabilitation and expansion of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to consciously plan to accommodate the expected high volume of traffic from the events.
“Start calibrating your activities to prepare to take in that traffic, it will come, but the big one will come I think sometime in the end of the year when everybody is moving back from home. The target is to make that experience better than last year’s,” Fashola said.
While promising to take the issue of safety further with the management of the companies handling the rehabilitation works, the Minister underscored the steps that must be taken by them to ensure safety on the roads. “ I need to see more safety signs, if you have to put reflective stickers especially for night time and lighting, please do so. We just want to reduce first, the number of casualties and accidents on the road, especially at night and during the day as well, and we want to see how this can translate to better motoring experience during the eid festival which is around the 12th of September plus or minus,” he said.
Pointing out that some of the constraints faced by the contractors include the illegal occupation of the right of ways along the highways, Fashola, warned all such occupiers of rights of way along federal highways to voluntarily quit as government was now set to retake all the right of ways across the country.
On the Lagos-Ibadan road, Fashola, who explained that the contractors are working in sections because the road could not be closed down, pointed out that while the contractors work they also have to manage traffic, which, according to him, would ordinarily slow down progress of work.
Fashola also disclosed that the contractors were also changing all the expansion joints on the section of the Bridge between Berger and Arepo in Ogun State ,popularly called the Long Bridge, which, according to him, are about 40 years old adding that when the work on the bridge was finished the motorists would experience something smoother and a better travel time as against the harrowing experience of the recent past.
The Minister, who frowned at the current situation where some citizens have seized portions of the roads across the country for doing business or other purposes, pointed out that such practice had not only slowed down work on the roads but was also detrimental to the smooth and unhindered vehicular traffic and safety of road users.
He appealed to those concerned across the country to voluntarily vacate the right of ways or be forced to do so by government adding that government was already developing strategies for repossessing all the right of ways which, according to him, is 45 meters from the central line. “That is the law”, he said.
Noting that those engaged in the act are also doing business at the expense of the citizenry, Fashola said the government was planning a meeting with all the Controllers across the 36 states to agree on new guidelines in managing the nation’s highways saying such guidelines would include those that would promote safety and clearing of the right of way.
Expressing dismay that some roads were covered by vehicles and tankers on both side, limiting the movement of vehicles and commuters, the Minister declared, “I am through this medium appealing to all those who are occupying our right of ways to voluntarily vacate them or we will take it by force or compulsion”.
To further guard against future illegal occupation of the right of ways, Fashola announced plans to also set guidelines for state controllers of works to take ownership of the roads in their states and to work with state governments and their commissioners for work in order to ensure holistic control and maintenance of the roads.
“We will set guidelines for state controllers to take ownership of the federal roads in their states and to work with the Stake governments and their commissioners for work so that we can build this partnership and have motorable roads”, he said adding, “This country is such a beautiful country from the much that I have seen and Nigerians don’t seem to know that because they can’t travel”, he said.
Fashola, who described his stopover inspection as a whistle stop inspection that had entailed driving and inspecting all the way from Ilorin, said some progress was obvious on the road adding, however, that he would not be satisfied until the work on the roads were finished and until Nigerians feel more comfortable. “So there is a lot of work to do. There is a lot of work that has been left undone for many years; so we are going to claw at them one after the other in a methodical way”.
“We came from Ilorin so I thought I could stop by here and manage time, road work, office work, so I thought I should drive by here from Ilorin through Ogbomosho to see the progress of work going on and also move through the Lagos- Ibadan Expressway and from there drive to Lagos and fly back to Abuja”, he said.
Noting that the Lagos- Ibadan and Oyo – Ogbomosho road takes the vehicular traffic for transportation of fuel and other heavy Cargo from the south to the North of the country bringing in yams, cattle, tomatoes and other produce from the North and south east, Fashola expressed joy that the North bound section of the road, the Ilorin -Jebba road where people used to sleep for four days was now getting better as could be seen when he inspected the road during the week.
“People feel included in the economic activity on the Ilorin- Jebba Road. I went there on Wednesday and it has improved in the last four months, the Governor of Kwara State also confirmed it. So slowly we will get to where we are going, journey time is gradually improving and as journey time improves, it means that people will buy less fuel, less diesel and they will save more money to do other things. Cost of goods and services will come down and there will be public relief down the line and that is the objective”.
Appealing to members of the public to be patient, Fashola pointed out that what they were complaining about before was bad road which resulted from contractors abandoning the projects as a result of nonpayment adding, “Now they are back to site and working. You cannot get the good road you want without experiencing some inconveniences”.
On the National Council Meeting, Fashola, whio described Kwara State as “wonderful”, added that the Council had a robust deliberation adding, “We are clawing back all the past resolutions that we had in the previous four council meetings that has not been implemented. We have set up a joint task force that will be a coordinating body to ensure that resolutions taken at council meetings are implemented.”
TO THE HON. MINISTER
27TH AUGUST, 2016