FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ROADS: Open Sore Of A Nation (2)

By Gbenga Akinfenwa   |   01 August 2015   |   11:07 pm  
Conoil junction, Sango, Ogun State

Conoil junction, Sango, Ogun State

THE exclusion of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), the government agency responsible for the repair of Federal roads, from the 2015 budgetary allocation, may have begun to take its toll on major roads in the country.

This is glaring in the Lagos/ Ogun axis, where motorists and other road users have continued to face serious nightmare driving through bad roads. The affected roads are: Lagos/Abeokuta Expressway; Lagos/Ibadan Expressway; and Papalanto/Sagamu Expressway, among others.

FERMA, which in the last administration came to the rescue of the Works Ministry, is now helpless, as nothing seems to be working. With the rainfalls, it has been more tales of woes.

The Lagos/Abeokuta expressway from Mushin/Olosha through Oshodi to Sango axis is an eyesore at certain portions, as those commuting it have continued to experience heavy traffic jam caused by the terrible condition of the road. The road is in a serious mess due to several potholes and ditches, causing fatal accidents on weekly basis.

Areas like Idi-Oro, Mushin-Olosha, Ajayi farm (opposite Ile-Zik), Mongoro, Cement, Dopemu under bridge, Iyana-Ipaja, Pleasure, Ile-Epo/Oja, Abule-Egba junction, Abule Taylor, Meiran, Salolo, Kola, Mosalasi, Amje, Ajegunle, Tollgate, Temidire, Sango garage through to Joju junction are ridden with different sizes of potholes.

Beyond these areas, the Conoil junction, Ijako-Tipper, Owode, Iyana-Ilogbo, Ilepa, Ifo to Abeokuta are also in poor state.

Since the contractor handling the road, Julius Berger Plc, abandoned the site few years ago, due to alleged breach of contract by government, the uncompleted spots and the maintenance of the entire road had been left entirely to FERMA. Though, the agency tried several palliatives on the ever-busy road, the temporary jobs done by the agency has further worsen the state of the roads.

The journey from Oshodi to Sango, which shouldn’t exceed 30 minutes, now takes up to four or five hours, depending on the time of the day. The most terrible areas now are Dopemu under bridge diversion, Ile-Epo/Oja, Abule-Egba, Kola, Tollgate and Sango garage. Traffic situation in these areas are always at a standstill, defying all known solutions. The police and traffic control officials are always helpless, because the situation seems beyond their control.

The Guardian investigations show that governments of both Lagos and Ogun states have not done enough to ease the stress, as they have failed to put in place, alternative solutions, since the Federal Government and its agency, FERMA, have failed to maintain the road.

The valley at the Dopemu under bridge diversion and the craters at the Ile-Epo/Oja, the areas recently repaired by Lagos State Public Works Department are major stress zones. Motorists can spend more than one hour at each of the areas. The bad portions are getting wider with great speed, especially with rains, causing more discomfort to road users.

Whenever there is heavy downpour, the Ile-Epo/Oja spot is always flooded, becoming a no go area for motorists and even pedestrians. Last week was very terrible, as a lot of vehicles were trapped after the heavy downpour; but for the Ekoro and Agege road diversions, serving as escape routes, the situation would have been worse.

It is a similar story at the Dopemu under bridge, from 5pm daily, the traffic would build up from Mongoro end and motorists would begin to crawl for hours until they surmount the trouble spot. To many, the experience on daily basis is unbearable.

THE Papalanto/Sagamu Expressway, a popular road that connects Lagos/Abeokuta expressway with the Lagos-Ibadan and Ijebu-Ode/Benin Expressway, was expected to decongest the Lagos-Ibadan road from the Lagos end. Its preference over Lagos route, especially, for people living in Sango/Ifo axis, stems from the fact that it is short, time saving and less congested. Sadly, it is one of the federal roads that have been poorly maintained, and has, therefore, turned to a death trap and robbers’ den.

Though, it was partially rehabilitated in 2013, by FERMA, its present state is a mess, as the long stretch of road now looks almost deserted. The once boisterous road has turned into a death trap, with motorists abandoning it, thus raising travelling cost for commuters.

The road is riddled with potholes and craters. Motorists spend precious man-hours trying to dodge deadly potholes that may cause major accidents. The journey to the express, which should not take more than an hour under normal circumstances, takes at least three hours or more.

Many of the road users from Agbado, Sango, Abule-Egba, Ilaro, Ifo, Itori and other neighbouring cities, who had chosen the route due to its proximity to the main express, had abandoned it for Abeokuta/Kobape and other routes that are fairly motorable, despite the distance.

From Papalanto junction on the Lagos/Abeokuta Expressway, through Olorunsogo Hydro Power Station, Ofada and Mokoloki junctions to the Sagamu bye-pass, lay dangerous ditches and craters that have claimed lives in recent crashes. In the last four years, the number of deaths recorded here has grown considerably. Sadly, Police officials and military personnel drafted to the route to curb incidence of robbery have converted it to checkpoints to extort money from commercial bus drivers.

Lagos-Ibadan
EXACTLY, two years after the Federal Government flagged off the dualisation of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the contractor handling a section, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc., has abandoned the project due to paucity of fund.

The dual carriage (Section I-Lagos-Sagamu) contract No. 6204 in Ogun and Oyo States was awarded to the contractor at N70.7billion on June 13, 2013, while Section II (Sagamu-Ibadan) contract No. 6205 was awarded to Reynolds Construction Company Limited at N96.3billion.

The contract was signed after the concession contract signed with Bi-Courtney High Services Ltd in 2009, was revoked in November 2012.

Prior to leaving the site, the snail pace construction had inflicted torture and agony on motorists, causing traffic jams, security risks and fatal accidents.

The experience of motorists on the 127.8 kilometres road in the last two years has been pathetic, and now that a section has been abandoned, the unfinished work and areas yet to be touched have aggravated commuters’ pains.

What really caused the slow pace of work; according to The Guardian investigation, was the paltry sum of N3 billion released for a project costing N166 billion, to be shared between the two contractors.

With the present situation of things, coupled with the downpour, road users are going through a tough time.

It is only the stretch around the Sagamu interchange towards the RCCG Camp Ground that are in good condition. Beyond that area to Berger bus stop, is left untouched.

The barriers set up to make way for construction works, have not been properly removed, thereby constituting serious risk and hindrance to vehicular movement.

From what The Guardian observed at the temporary site of the contractor, it may take time for them to continue the project, considering the fact that a good number of their equipments have been moved to their headquarters.

All efforts to get the FERMA official in charge of the South West zone, Engr. Awodun was unsuccessful, as his mobile phone was stitched-off.
B
ut the FERMA Engineer in charge of Lagos, Peter Afolabi Kehinde, who spoke with The Guardian on phone, said he could not say anything concerning his agency to “somebody I have never met before on phone.” Despite reminding him that there had been a meting last year, he stood his ground and declined any comment.



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