The take-off of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport road and the Pen Cinema Flyover Bridge construction by the Lagos government has continued to tickle stakeholders
Lagos State Government can be described as a ravaging bull in road construction and others.
With uncommon courage, the government is tackling in one fell swoop two issues: urban renewal with a high premium on aesthetics of the metropolis and the expansion of its road infrastructure to accommodate increasing pressure caused by huge vehicular traffic.
Getting round in Lagos is a nightmare. The state, the nation’s commercial and economic nerve centre, with its 9,100 road network, most of which are in various stages of dilapidation, is gradually becoming ensnarled in its success.
Its bugeoning economy and growing averagely comfortable middle class are daily cloging its narrow width roads with their new auto wheel acquisitions leaving routine traffic gridlock that seemed to defy all logic and sustenable solutions.
But Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is set to tackle the hydra-headed traffic gridlock headlong, and has since assumption of office, being expanding the road network, applying the “three R and P” template designed by its Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) agency – the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transportation Authourity (LAMATA), – which are – Routine mainrenance, Recurrent maintenance, Periodic maintenance and Rehabilitation.
The first two applies to routine cleaning, desilting, clearing, which involve filling or sealing of cracks, potholes’repairs, treatment of swellings, and depressions, among others on the roads.
According to LAMATA, about 405 routine maintenance contracts have been addressed and under the recurrent maintenance, 104 contracts were awarded and implemented on 275km of roads.
The last two, which are periodic and total rehabilitation, apply to asphalt overlays, reconstruction of walkways, road markings and installation of concrete lined drains to control flooding.
While the periodic maintenance also involve some minor Traffic System Measures (TSM), such as signage and traffic light installations at major junctions to redistribute traffic; the rehabilitation involves reconstruction of pavements and application of an overlay of 50-millimetre thick hot asphalt. It also involves the reconstruction of drainage systems, kerbs and pedestrian walkways.
While these have continued to be witnessed on several roads simultaneously on the island as well as the mainland axis of the state, and further opening up of the city-state, with the constructions and rehabilitations of several inner city roads across all the 20 local governments and 37 development units of the state, the government is targeting sustainable remedial work on some straategic roads to improve traffic situations in the state.
One of such interventions, described as “laudable”, is the government’s determination to address the “embarassing” Murtala Muhammed International Airport road (known as Airport Road), and Pen Cinema Flyover Bridge. Both, being handled by the same contractor – Hitech Construction Nig. Ltd., would be completed in December, next year.
A stakeholders’ forum, which signalled the take-off of the two projects, held between Thursday (for the Airport Road) and Friday, (Pen Cinema Bridge) last week, to intimate and seek the cooperation and understanding of motorists and other road users for the projects.
The Airport Road, for instance, for decades, has been in a the deplorable state. It is the only access to the nation’s busiest local and international airport, a facility which, according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), accounted for 4.01million passenger traffic last year.
“This road for several years has been an eye sore, but we are happy that an end has come to this sad tale,” a resident, Sylvanus Anyanwu, unable to hide his happiness said about the development said last Thursday.
Successive governments had gone to sleep, abandoning their statutory responsibilities on the road. Angry residents said the decay of the road belittles the nation’s claim to being a continental giant. They saw it as a bad testimonial of the maagers’ commitment to the nation’s infrastructure to aesthetics.
In place of the run down road, which in the past, had suffered rehabilitations in breaches, the design of the project, according to the government, includes the reconstruction and expansion of the carriage to three-lane expressway on both directions, construction of two lane service roads, in both directions, construction of ramp bridge to provide a U-turn from Ajao Estate to the Airport and the construction of a flyover at NAHCO/Toll Gate and drainage.
Others include the removal of pedestrian bridges at Ajao Estate and HAHCO/Hajj Camp, construction of slip roads to provide access to Ajao Estate, of lay-bys and installations of street lights.
The government’s intervention came at the behest of a presidential directive ceding the road to Lagos.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo (as he then was), in May, approved the government’s request to allow it embark on extensive reconstruction that would fit its urban renewal initiative.
The reconstruction will begin from Oshodi.
The new-look road, the state government said, would complement the ultra-modern terminal gradually taking shape at Oshodi, which would, undoubtedly, transform transportation systems in the state.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, reportedly awarded the contract for the road’s face-lift and expansion. This was even when his government and that of Lagos, under the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola as governor, were on opposite sides of the table.
Perhaps that explains why the contract never materialised. Rather, the road witnessed mere window dressing as the state government embarked on beautification and regrassing of its sidewalks and complemented it with erection of street lights.
Rather than being an international gateway, the road became home to illegal squatters, as car dealers, commercial three-wheeler motorcyclists and upholstery makers took vantage portions on the road, turning it into auto garages, park and a thriving upholstery village.
Ambode said: “In the spirit of the regeneration and urbanisation that this administration set to achieve, we believe strongly that the image of the decadence of that road must be repaired and we took it upon ourselves to appropriate the 2017 budget that the House of Assembly should approve the total reconstruction of the Airport Road from Oshodi to the international airport.”
The government said the reconstruction would be carried out with the full support of the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
The governor said the stakeholders’ forum was to prevent any delay to the project’s execution timelines.
The Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Adebowale Akinsanya, who represented Ambode, said the state’s intervention was borne out of the desire to transform the entire Airport road axis as part of the greater Oshodi renewal plan.
He observed that the international gateway’s redevelopment would enhance vehicular movement from the airport to Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and its immediate environs, such as Ikeja metropolis, Isolo and Mafoluku axis. He said it would eliminate the traffic gridlock and reduce travel time in the area.
Akinsanya noted that the construction would come with some inconveniences, assuring that measures were in place to mitigate the impact on residents, motorists and commuters who ply the route.
He solicited the cooperation, support and understanding of all users of the road, informing them to remember that the ultimate goal was to facilitate improvement in the quality of life and the standard of living of communities in the vicinity of the project.
At the meeting, a representative of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Remi Aromiwura, said the agency was pleased with the decision of the state government to reconstruct the road.
Aromiwura, who pledged the commitment of the agency to the timely delivery of the project, said the design was at par with other airport’s gateways across the world, especially in the developed nations.
Hitech Construction Director. Mr. Ivan Becker, promised delivery of the job within 15 months, adding that the presence of Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) on the route would aid free flow of traffic and speedy execution of work.
The government also allayed the fears over its readiness to compensate anyone whose property might be affected by the proposed reconstruction.
Akinsanya said the design had shown that only some perimeter fences of some properties were affected.
Similar discusions featured at the stakeholders forum at Agege on Friday, over plans to begin work on the Pen Cinema flyover Bridge, which Ambode said, would equal the Jubilee Bridges at Admiralty and Abule Egba in grandeur.
Also represented at the Agege forum by Akinsanya, Ambode said the construction was necessary to relieve traffic patterns across the intersections of Iju Road and Old Abeokuta Road with Oba Ogunji/Agunbiade Street, which serves as strategic link to communities.
He said the precast/pre-stressed concerete for the dual carriageway flyover and ramp at Pen Cinema Junction has started.
He said: In ensuring that this project measures up to world class standard, the reconstruction was given – Hitech Construction Nig. Ltd., the construction company that is prepared to work round the clock in two shifts to ensure the timely completion of the project.” He might just have been speaking for the two critical projects on the plate of Hitech.
the bridge comes up and this will take the stress away.”
Thomas Akpo, a Yellow Bus driver on iju road praised the government for the proposed flyover bridge. “This project is aimed at improving our lives.” Akpo who obviously was referring to the traffic gridlock especially at Pen Cinema said many of his colleagues have abandoned the route and moved to Abule Egba and environs as a result of the intransigent traffic on the Agege axis.
“We are grateful to Ambode for giving a thought to improving our lives here too. Now, is the time the common man to also enjoy the benefit of government,” Akpo added.
With the strides of the Ambode government, he may not be totally wrong.