Lagos/Abeokuta expressway…Fashola’s silence angers residents, motorists

Bad spots at Owode, Iyana-Ilogbo along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway. PHOTOS: GBENGA AKINFENWA

Bad spots at Owode, Iyana-Ilogbo along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway. PHOTOS: GBENGA AKINFENWA

Five weeks after The Guardian’s exclusive report on the exclusion of the Lagos/Abeokuta Expressway from the list of roads scheduled for rehabilitation by the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) this year, the deafening silence from the agency and the Federal Ministry of works, is raising fears that the road might not be repaired this year.

Even the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, has refused to give any reasonable excuse for the exclusion.For over a week, The Guardian has been on the trail of the Personal Assistant to the minister, Akeem Bello, but till the time of filing this report, he had not responded to questions posed to him, on whether the road was omitted in error, or was intentionally left out.

When he was reached on his mobile line on Monday, he told The Guardian that; “I will find out from the coordinating director of the ministry, why it was so. Once I have the information, I will call you back.”

When there was no call from him, another call was made on Wednesday around 10:23am, during which he asked to be given between 15 to 20 minutes, but the line could not be reached till Thursday morning. Several efforts made to reach him also failed as his phone kept ringing without a response.

The Guardian had observed that from the list of 186 roads published in a national daily on Monday, June 13, 2016, titled; “Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) Headquarters, Invitation For Prequalification, General Maintenance Repairs of Some Federal Roads Nationwide and Construction of FERMA State Field Office in FCT,” the road was conspicuously missing, though roads of less importance were listed.

The four roads listed for rehabilitation in the state are Sango/Otta-Idiroko road, Ijebu Ode-Itele road, Owode-Ilaro road, and Sagamu-Ogijo road. Though these roads equally need attention, but the ignored road seems to be of great importance, considering the heavy vehicular traffic it witnesses daily from the Lagos end, which is the commercial nerve centre of the country.

At present, the state of the road has gone from bad to worse. Within the five weeks that the road was left untouched, the plight of motorists, especially private car owners has increased seriously.With the rains, the road has degenerated to a sorry state. As it is now, journeying on this road is a nightmare for motorists and commuters alike.

The most horrible areas now are-Owode, Sango Garage in Joju (opposite IBEDC office), Iyana-Ilogbo and Ilepa. Unfortunately, the bad portions have extended to Sawyer, Techno, in the same axis. Traffic in these areas is usually at a standstill, defying solutions most times. The police and motor traffic officials are always helpless, as the situation is beyond their control.

The trip from Sango to Ifo, which should ordinarily not exceed 20 minutes, now takes up to two hours, depending on the time of the day.The valley at the bridge edge, when going to Ifo, Joju junction and the craters at Conoil, Owode, Iyana-Ilogbo and Ilepa, are mainly responsible for the condition. Motorists spend close to 40 minutes navigating through each of these places. The failed portions are even getting wider by the day with increasing rainfall causing more discomfort to road users.

For example, many vehicles have been trapped at the Owode spot on several occasions in the past. As at the last count, five fuel tankers had spilled their contents on the spot after getting stuck, and ultimately falling down as they struggle to find the way out.Another unfortunate thing is that there is no link road that can serve as an alternative for trapped motorists.

Now, residents of communities along the road have become helpless, especially after it dawned on them that the road may suffered the same fate it suffered last year, when it was excluded from the 2015 budget, leading to its being neglected all through the year.

A motorist, Alhaji Semiu Olorunlomeru, who bemoaned his daily experience on the road, condemned the neglect by both the federal and state governments, warning that if no attention is given to the road in the next few weeks, the road will soon become impassable.

He said though the road belongs to the Federal Government, the Ogun State governor that the governor, Ibikunle Amosun, should bear it in mind that the only council area where the state gets its largest Internally Revenue (IGR) from is Ado-Odo/Ota, where the problem of the bad road is mostly felt.

“If the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, can repair the bad sections of the road within his domain, Amosun has no excuse for not doing same. Sometime in 2003/2003, the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, rehabilitated the Mushin-Olosha/Idi-Oro road and claimed his money from the Federal Government, Amosun should toe that line, he should stop the flimsy excuses he is giving, after all, it is the same party that is at the centre, that is ruling the state.

A commuter, Mrs. Mojisola Iyiola, who also decried the state of the road said, majority of her colleagues who are traders have shunned the Sango market because of the chaotic traffic situation that has made life unbearable for them.

She also enjoined the Federal Government and Amosun, to “reduce our pain. If we don’t have money to buy cloth and other things because of the economic crisis, can’t we have good road to travel. Even if this is the only thing government can do, let it do it for us.”

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